The Griffins Society's History
Origins of the Society
The Griffins Society was set up in 1965, founded from the funds of the disbanded HMP Holloway's Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society when responsibility for prison welfare and after care was transferred to the Probation Service. The Society took its name from the two statues of Griffins which then stood at either side the Prison's gates - shown in the photograph below. These Griffins were removed when the Prison was demolished in 1976 and they now stand in the Prison's grounds.
Click here or on the image to see a larger picture of the old HMP Holloway, known at the time as 'The Black Castle'. The new prison opened in 1977.
(For more information on the work of John Donat, please visit the Royal Institute of British Architects who hold Mr Donat's photographic archive).
Beginning with one voluntary aftercare hostel, over the next 30 years the organisation developed five hostels for women offenders in north London. Most notably, in 1978 the Home Office asked the Society to set up the first female-only bail and probation hostel, Kelley House, which is still open today. Following the increasing professionalisation of hostel provision and the decision to close two of the Society's hostels, the Griffins took the decision to transfer the remaining three hostels to a larger voluntary organisation in the late 1990s.
Origins of the Griffins Society Visiting Research Fellowship Programme
In 1999 the Griffins commissioned an evaluation of its work in hostels which was carried out by Dr Judith Rumgay, Senior Lecturer at the London School of Economics. The research has now been published as a book, Ladies of Lost Causes - see below.
The results of this evaluation highlighted a large gap in evidence-based research into the resettlement needs of women sentenced to a community penalty as well as those coming out of custody. It was for this reason that The Griffins Society decided to change its direction to focus on the needs of this very vulnerable group by supporting practitioner-based research; the Griffins Society Visiting Research Fellowship Programme was set up at the London School of Economics in 2001.
"Ladies of Lost Causes. Rehabilitation, women offenders and the voluntary sector"
In this highly original study Judith Rumgay evaluates the development of a residential programme for female offenders run by the Griffins Society. The text is unique in that it documents the radical contribution of women philanthropists and practitioners to offender rehabilitation. Drawing on archival, interview, and observational sources, the author describes, analyses, and evaluates a distinctive model of care provision by volunteer, upper-middle-class women that has since been overtaken by the professionalization of the voluntary sector. Rumgay illuminates the pathways of women into, and out of, serious crime; explores the dynamics of rehabilitative practice in the volatile setting of residential care; and also analyses the qualities of successful rehabilitative practice. Subsequently, the author suggests rehabilitative success is more appropriately understood within a paradigm of natural desistance from crime, instead of the more common appeal to a medical model of treatment. Moreover, this style of rehabilitative practice is inextricable from the broader social outlook of a dedicated group of philanthropic women, whose critics derided them with epithets such as ‘Lady Bountiful.’
For more information, visit the Willan Publishing website.