Howard League lecture held in memory of Lord Parmoor

Monday 30 October 2017, 6pm
Clifford Chance LLP, 10 Upper Bank Street, London, E14 5JJ

Guest speaker: 

The Rt Hon Sir James Munby
President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales

Sir James Munby is a leading judicial voice on children and young people. His landmark judgment in November 2002 on the application of the Children Act 1989 to children in prison was the first major legal case brought by the Howard League legal team.

This year, the Howard League celebrates fifteen years of legal work with children and young people in prison, many of whom have benefited from the impact of that decision.

Request a ticket
If you would like to attend, please submit your request online at:
or you can email:

The event is free to attend, but you are invited to make a donation to cover the charity’s costs.  Please give generously.


Progress Update and Free Get Together

Greetings to you all after a very long time.

A year has passed since the closing of HMP Holloway. During this year many therapists from Holloway have been working on a book to document 20 years of psychotherapy provided to the women held there. In addition to this another project, HUT (Holloway United Therapies) is taking shape. HUT’s aim is to extend specialist forensic therapy to female prisoners on their release from prison.
The book, “The End of the Sentence” is scheduled to be published by Karnac. “The End of the Sentence” is being edited by myself and Jessica Collier. It will appear as part of the Karnac Forensic Series edited by Brett Kahn who is also supervising us in the editing of the chapters.
The exploration of loss is a key component of psychotherapy. The mourning process can go many ways. Healthy mourning provides fuel for further creativity which I believe our two current and complimentary projects express and embody.
To catch up and reconnect SFF is holding a free meeting on 2nd September from 11:00 – 1pm at the usual place, the Philadelphia Association, 17 Marty’s Yard, off of Hampstead High St., NW3. where we will have time to tell you about both “The End of the Sentence” and HUT. Anyone interested in forensic work is warmly invited. There is so much to talk about keeping forensic work alive not only in our practice but in the larger world. My experience of working at HMP Holloway and many other prisons supports my strongly held view that psychotherapy has much to offer in the treatment of offenders and the marginalised. Together let us share our work and find ways in which forensic understanding can be shared and demonstrated to a wider public, ensuring more understanding and support for psychotherapy in (and after) prison.
This is a free event and will include refreshments. A donation would be useful to help cover the rental of the room. We do hope to see you and hope you can help us keep the forensic ball in play. If we do not stand up for our work – who will?
Please do keep in touch and hope to see you on 2nd September. We are always looking for people keen to present their work!
Best wishes to all,
Pamela Stewart
Founder Saturday Forensic Forum

2016 PAS Annual Lecture – 3 November 2016

“Life without Parole”

by Edward Fitzgerald QC

When: Thursday 3rd November 2016, 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Drinks will be served during the evening.

Where: Herbert Smith Freehills, 1st Floor Auditorium, Exchange House, Primrose St, London EC2A 2EG.


• The Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) ( is an independent registered charity providing free legal advice and information to prisoners in England & Wales on their legal rights and condition of imprisonment.
• Edward Fitzgerald QC  is a Patron of PAS and barrister who specialises in criminal law, public law and international human rights law. He is also a trustee and patron of other charities such as the Death Penalty Project and The Longford Trust.
• Herbert Smith Freehills is a leading global commercial law firm with a strong commitment to corporate responsibility and pro bono support of charities including PAS.

At this event, we will also continue celebrating our 25th Anniversary this year – do join us and raise a glass to our achievements!

RSVP: If you would like to attend this event, please email to register your place. Tickets are free. Maximum two tickets per person. Please note that tickets are offered on a first come, first served basis. If you book and subsequently cannot attend, please notify us so we can re-allocate your place.

Donations: If you wish to support the work of PAS, this can be done here.

Thanks: This event is kindly supported by Herbert Smith Freehills. We are most grateful for their generous support.

Next Forum: Learning from Baby P


Former Director of Children’s Services Haringey Sharon Shoesmith discusses her experience of being at the centre of a child abuse scandal and dealing with other children’s services, the media and government

This forum will be chaired by Psychotherapist Karen Rowe

When:  Saturday 12th November, 2016
Time:   Refreshments and registration from 10:30 for prompt 11am start, finishing at 1.15pm

Price:   £10 (concessions for students)

Venue: Philadelphia Association, 4 Marty’s Yard, 17 Hampstead High St. NW3 1QW

Booking is advised

Event: Trauma, Grief and Resilience. What does it mean to be a child in Gaza?


Dr Mohamed Altawil and David Harrold
will be presenting an evening on the work of the
Palestine Trauma Centre

“One person suffering from PTSD in a family affects all the rest: everyone becomes in a state of hyper-vigilance. The sufferer’s symptoms seem bizarre at best, intolerable at worst. Imagine if you have tens, or thousands, of people all living together, who have these kinds of symptoms. Together, it makes for a psychotic society.”

Saturday 17th September, 7.30pm

4 Marty’s Yard, 17 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1QW
0300 123 1708


Endings & Beginnings. Grief & Gratitude

On May 25th Pamela Stewart presented at 35th Forensic Arts Therapy Conference at Holloway. Below is a transcript of her talk on the closure of the prison and the end of the psychotherapeutic work undertaken there.


Good bye Holloway: grief and gratitude

First, thank you to Jessica Collier for arranging this day to bring us together and thank you all for coming.

In psychotherapy and psychoanalysis the setting in which the therapy takes place is of immense importance. Reflecting on this today where we are meeting holds meaning. Where are we?

We meet in a chapel for what could be the funeral of psychological therapies. Or, it seems to me, we are here to honour the years of therapeutic work done within these walls which will soon fall down. Together over the years we have shared our insights and struggles. The key is that we have struggled and worked together embodying one of the 2 key principles of forensic psychotherapy: never to work in isolation.

Team work is required to keep not only the patient in therapy but also to help us maintain perspective, to keep our feet on the ground and our minds in the room. This is no place for the conquistador or the narcissistic do-gooder. Our work is hard and we need each other to stay the course.

So this is one of the reasons today is sad. We are together in the same room where many of us heard the news on Nov 25 that the rumour was now a reality: Holloway would close. I watched people, officers, admin colleagues, therapists as tears rose in their eyes. And mine. What we are losing is not only the building but the relationships that have taken years to build, brick by brick.

My hero, Freud (remember him) makes it very clear that loss is a form of madness, at least at first. The world feels upside down. We might feel angry, out of balance, disbelieving. However if the process of mourning is allowed to flow these feelings transform and the memories of the person or place come more steadily and healthily into focus. However if the process silts up through an inability to work through – the toxic feelings never have the chance to transform into meaning and memory. I will explore this further in a clinical example written during my early days in Holloway working on my MA project which I later named Born Inside.

My gratitude to Holloway for my own beginnings as a psychotherapist is huge. Today I give thanks and pay tribute to the people who helped me when I first showed up, keen, much younger and full of energetic assumptions in autumn 1995. Perhaps only female therapists thank their children. Becoming a mother is a psychological process and in many ways they gave birth to this work. My thanks also goes again to my supervision group and supervisor for their tolerance and support over many years as well as to Chrissy Reeves for her imagination and commitment to therapy and to my previous colleagues Kimberley Wilson and Paola Franciosi.

Now back to mourning – or what happens when this potentially creative process does not proceed.

The clinical material I am about to present comes from my MA dissertation for the Tavistock Clinic. The dissertation proposal came out of my intense frustration with the emphasis on the inner world. This was the mid-nineties when I was unaware the psycho-social model.

Melanie Klein with her intense emphasis on the important of anxiety as an impediment to development was all well and good. I could see the importance of the inner world. But I kept wondering about where the inner world came from, and indeed how the outer world reflects and changes our internal worlds. I wondered how I could study the intersection of inner and outer. One day it came to me, driving down Holloway Rd. If I could find a place of great anxiety perhaps I could put this theory to the test. If I wanted to observe and test the impact of anxiety on the mother’s relationship to her baby where could I do this? Up popped Holloway prison. As often happens, even on Holloway Rd, the answer was under my nose.

Long story but my project was accepted by the prison who admonished me not treat the women like animals in a zoo to be clinically observed. The prison’s stance impressed and surprised me. My assumption that the prison would be a harsh place, disrespectful of the mothers was one of my first assumptions to be wrong. Quickly I learned the Importance of making good relationships with the officer. This has certainly born fruit over my years here. Learn their names! They are people, too and after all isn’t therapy is all about relationships?

My work began on the mother and baby unit, D4. After any false starts I began to realise that I had made a fundamental mistake. My assumption that HMP Holloway was terrible dungeon and the women would be very anxious and depressed had to go; to be honest what I was experiencing was quite the reverse. The mothers and babies were doing well until the time for release arrived. What I did learn was how central unmourned loss in childhood was for the mothers….. Broken attachments, time in care, the witnessing of violence, the experience of very little talking ….. These became themes arising in the work.

As unmourned loss might have some relevance for us today I will share with you a vignette from the early days of my sentence to remind us of how pivotal the experience of grief is for all of us and how we avoid mourning at our psychic peril.

Maria – the mother and Terry (8 months old)

The mothers were eating their lunch in a windowless room. Many were facing the wall. In came Marie with her daughter Terry in her buggy. Wearing a soiled t-shirt, worn-out cotton slippers and torn sweatpants the Mum, Marie, appeared disorientated. Terry’s pink shorts were crusty with old food. Terry was wearing only one slipper that looked to small on her little, puffy foot. Even the buggy appeared battered. The other mothers seemed to pull away from Marie. I knew from a previous session that Marie had also been born while her mother had been in prison. The baby was watching her mother carefully with a serious, down turned mouth. Sitting well back in her buggy the 8 month old at first appeared relaxed with the slipperless foot dangling down. In contrast her other leg was pulled up tight into her body held close, like a shield.

Marie told Terry that she was going to make her lunch. Terry watched as her mother left the room without reacting and shifted her gaze to me. Terry made little kicking movements with her dangling leg – a methadone marking time until her mother’s return. She smiled at me and started to kick harder. This time she touched my knee, looked up again and smiled as if happy to make contact.

Marie entered the room and I was struck by how small she looked compacted to her huge daughter. Terry looked from me to her mother and then at the purple plastic bowl. Pulling her eyebrows down she frowned.

Marie put the bowl down and settled Terry into the plastic high chair. Terry did not react to be being moved apart from stiffening her arms as if bracing herself for a fall. The food was ready but there was no drink, only the bowl. Without putting a bib on Terry Marie quickly started feeding the baby huge, dripping spoonfuls saying:

“This is Weetabix with lots of lovely sugar in it. …. Just the way you like it.”

Obediently Terry opened her smooth, pink little mouth.

In a way which is hard to describe her mouth seemed to stay open – as if the food was not being fed but funnelled straight down into her stomach. This reminded me of the suffragettes being force-fed in prison. The food looked rough and dry, like dirty hay. Hot and lumpy I wondered if it would be hard to swallow.

Terry’s eyes were wide, glued to her mother’s face. She was watching her mother – not the spoon that was coming at her. Her mouth looked like a target – a bull’s-eye. As Marie fed the baby she poured her story into me.

She told a long tale. There were 4 children in her family. One of them, her little sister, died of leukaemia. Marie said the child’s name was Erica. I remembered that Marie has a son named Eric. When I said this Marie smiled and nodded. “Yeh, I named him after me sister.”

Continuing Marie said that the family “just fell apart with the grief. We was all round the bed when she died. Me mum and dad never to spoke to each other after that.”

A year later Marie said that she was working on the street. She was 15.

“Me Mum was never home. After the hospital she spent all her time in the pub. No one ever looked after me.”

This led me to think of Marie’s other 3 children at “home” with both of their parents in prison. Marie had told me that when she gave birth to Terry, her son Eric, had run away from home and turned up in the hospital to see his mother. When he finally found her she was waiting to go to the labour suite. She was in chains.

Marie’s eyes filled with tears and she pulled in her lips. Suddenly Terry started to vomit in a strange way, as if her head were haemorrhaging.

With what looked like no effort at all – no retching or signs of distress, all the straw coloured food started streaming out of her mouth. Great lumps tumbled from her mouth as if a tap had been turned on full by remote control.

Weetabix shot out like lava, falling into the creases of her neck, down into her collar and into her shorts. Food fell onto the seat of the highchair and slid down her bare legs. Food feel between her toes and into the edges of her one slipper.

As if shaking herself awake or coming up for air Marie roused herself. Looking around frantically Marie saw a small roll of thin prison loo paper. Desperately she tried to mop up the mess. The thin paper was inadequate for the job. Weetabix was everywhere. Terry started out into the distance with her moth still open, like a door off a hinge.

Unblinking, her eyes unfocused, glassy like marbles, as if she had seen a ghost.

Finally Marie yanked Terry from her molten seat, smearing her own clothes with the residue of lunch. Rushing out Marie said she was going to change Terry and left the hot and now smelly room.


Marie’s slight build was in striking contrast to her heavy-set baby. Visually to me this expressed how packed Terry was with passed on, undigested emotion. Sitting in her buggy Terry reminded me of an overflowing plastic bucket.

It is impossible to know whether Marie had lost her capacity to mother through imprisonment or, whether given all of her undigested grief she had never had it.

The feeding felt like force. In with the food went all the undigested grief – all the unmourned losses. Terry did indeed seen to be looking at the Ghosts in the Nursery. For me there was the feeling of history mindlessly repeating itself stuck in a cracked groove skipping down the generations.

Absence of understanding guarantees repetition. Being unable to learn from the past we are condemned to repeat it – emotional experiences in cased like Russian Dolls. Without understanding our emotions there can be no working though grief brought about by feelings of loss, abandonment and rage.

So today I am grateful for the opportunity to work through some of my feelings about the loss of Holloway with you. In Mourning and Melancholia Freud offers us the hope that successful mourning can open us up to new experiences and creativity to go forward in our lives and not to repeat the patterns of the past.