A needs-responsive approach demands that the needs and experiences of individuals are recognised and influence the tailoring of the mentoring service. A one size fits all model is inappropriate and both staff and mentors must be confident in recognising need and responding to it.

A needs-responsive approach with female offenders means that the needs will be recognised as multiple, complex and interrelated; the needs will be of different depths and what one woman may believe is an immediate need, another may not.

Explore women’s needs from nine different pathways which is a good starting point for learning all needs. Speak to women about:

  • Accommodation
  • Skills and Employment
  • Health
  • Substance Misuse
  • Children, Families and Relationships
  • Attitudes, Thinking and Behaviour
  • Finance, Benefit and Debt
  • Personal Safety and Abuse

Best Practice Guide

  • Encourage women to speak about their needs; women are often unfamiliar with sharing their needs
  • Need is identified by the mentee; a woman's need is not to be identified by the mentor
  • Speak about how gender impacts our understanding of the need. For example, she may be in accommodation, but the tenancy may not be in her name. She may not have care of her children but they may still be one of her needs.
  • Ask about the needs that are more commonly experienced by women, such as domestic abuse, prostitution, eating disorders and self harm. These questions will show women that it is okay to speak about all of their needs.
  • Speaking about need does not mean you must do something about need. Speaking about need lets women know it is okay to speak about need.