International Women’s Day: Project Hope

“So many women are incarcerated before their story is completely heard.”

For International Women’s Day our incredible volunteers have written 450 letters of hope and encouragement to send to three local women’s prisons to help combat loneliness. This initiative is called Project Hope and was launched last summer by a SATEDA volunteer who was incarcerated because of her abusive ex-partner, after we heard how female inmates were often locked in their cells for 23 hours a day – with no family visits – due to the difficulties of maintaining social distancing within the prison setting. 

We also know that a large number of women break the law directly due to the domestic abuse they are being subjected to – and a high percentage of female inmates have experiences of male violence, from partners or fathers.

The response to our project so far has been incredible: the women who have received our letters have written back opening up about their feelings, their experiences of domestic abuse and they’ve expressed immense gratitude for the kind words of support we have sent them during this time of increased isolation due to lockdown restrictions.

Dr Liza Thompson, CEO at SATEDA says, “It is especially important that on International Women’s Day that we remember women – both within our society and in societies across the world – who are faced by multi-disadvantage, who may be forced to steal to eat, who use violence to protect themselves and their children, and who face a daily struggle to simply stay alive. We are the lucky ones and it is our duty to raise the status of the women who society forgets – we can begin by sending them messages of hope – from one woman to another.”

Most of the women in prison won’t realise that they have been through domestic abuse, because it wasn’t necessarily physical. Our volunteer who launched Project Hope knows what these women are going through. She has sat there in the same small rooms they are in, left only to her thoughts – a feeling which she explains is difficult to explain to people who haven’t been through it.

She says that “after getting feedback from the ladies at HMP East Sutton Park, I can honestly say I was beaming with pride and even shed a tear that we have been able to bring some positivity to so many ladies. Now that we have taken on more local prisons it has been great to reach out to many more survivors and to give them some love and hope. So many women are incarcerated before their story is completely heard. The isolation is so painful and I know what these women are going through, which is why writing these letters is so important for me. Our letters make them feel heard and empowered. I can’t wait for them to receive the International Women’s Day batch.”

If you would like to get involved with Project Hope, please send an email to and we will get you going.

Mary, our volunteer coordinator with some of the letters we have sent to women’s prisons for International Women’s Day