International Women's Day 2024

One of our student volunteers, Hannah, shares her reflections on International Women's Day.

Women, women, women...what can’t they do?

Well...they couldn’t do a lot, actually. In fact, throughout history, women were significantly undervalued and restricted. For instance, it wasn’t until the 1920s that white women from the UK and US were able to vote. For black women this wasn’t available until the 1960s. Even contraception wasn’t available for women in the UK and US until the 1960s. Although these dates may feel like they were a long time ago, the reality is they aren’t. Arguably, women have somewhat more free will today, but what does ‘free will’ really mean? Is it a social construct? Does it genuinely exist or are other societal pressures inhibiting women from expressing free will, to any degree? What does ‘free will’ really mean?

On the one hand, women are free to do whatever they please. For example, women have access to contraception, they can vote, they are in positions of power in various fields of work. Women even have more choice regarding whether to have children and stay at home, have children and work or even have no children and are equally as career-focused. However, are women really protected? Women’s healthcare, safety and behaviour or appearance that deviates outside of ‘feminine societal norms’ are only some of the issues that women tackle today. One of the things I love about women today is how diverse we are in all aspects and the ‘can do’ attitude we have. Choice is a very powerful tool, only when women are free to utilise it.

Speaking of choice, as a woman myself, who is interested in a Forensic Psychology focused career and working in prisons, New Bridge was the ideal opportunity to gain valuable experience. It isn’t often that you hear a prisoner’s perspective of their life from one side of the prison bars which is why understanding their perspective is imperative. It reduces the likeliness of bias and builds rapport, communication skills and trust which prisoners themselves may struggle with. Thus, being a trusted female role model comes with feelings of pride and confidence. Let’s not forget that sometimes male prisoners hold negative views of women, perhaps for a multitude of reasons. Having completed my Master's in Forensic Psychology last year, I have been able to employ the skills learnt and use them whilst conversing with my prisoner via letters. Building boundaries and respect is so rewarding, with every letter I receive, I am able to witness these changes. The prisoner I write to is very open and honest with me, this level of rapport has been built over time since August last year. Additionally, the prisoner I write to does not have English as a first language, however, his letter and handwriting skills have developed a lot in just a handful of months. Prisoners with a New Bridge volunteer not only have someone to support them, but they may be improving their communication skills simultaneously. These kinds of skills are significant in helping prisoners gain workshop experience whilst in prison, aid their education comprehension and helping them to improve their writing and communication skills when applying for jobs post-release.

In short, New Bridge has opened my world up so much and I am glad I have been a part of it and will continue to do so!

Imagine you’re in prison. Your communication is severed from your community and the rest of the world. You’re in an unfamiliar environment. You’re scared. All you have are your thoughts to potentially drown in. How would you feel?

These are just some real and additional examples of why New Bridge as a foundation is so valuable. Especially with mental health issues amongst prisoners being one of the most prominent issues. I cannot change what has happened in a prisoner’s past, but I can help them to move forward. If I can be involved in keeping women safer by helping to rehabilitate prisoners, I will.

For any women of all backgrounds reading this, please keep true to who you are, and I hope you achieve your goals whatever they may be.  The world will always require people like you!

You can find out more about volunteering with New Bridge at


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