Members of the Women's Voices Group release balloons in remembrance of the life of Celeste and other women whose lives have been lost whilst in custody

Fighting for Real Change for Celeste

Women who’ve experienced severe disadvantage think no-one will speak up for them, but today Women’s Voices let off balloons in remembrance of the life of Celeste and other women whose lives have been lost whilst in custody.

Some of us knew Celeste personally. And have felt this loss personally. This could have been any of us. We are angry that the same failings have been happening for so long. Some of us were in custody when the Corston report was published (2006) – and hoped that change would come for women, with care being put before incarceration.

And yet, 19 women have died in women’s prisons this year. 19. The highest in 12 years.  A lot of these women were in prison for petty crimes, were struggling with mental health, and had been through trauma and domestic violence.

Vulnerable women are finding it harder and harder to meet the criteria to be diverted to mental health services instead of custody. Leaving them wide open to falling through the cracks.

These women are someone’s mother, daughter, auntie, sister. No life is worthless, when empathy and compassion cost nothing. Where is the help? Where is the empathy? Women are not statistics. We are not pound signs.

It seems to us that nothing has changed since 2006 and preventable deaths of women are still happening.

Our balloons had messages of change on them – highlighting the injustice behind a system that puts women behind a lock and key, instead of offering her support.

Here were some of Women’s Voices messages on the balloons:

  • There’s not enough help in women’s prisons
  • Rehabilitate instead of just leaving them
  • Listen to women – and hear from the heart. She was asking for help!
  • The criminal justice systems fails women with mental health problems.
  • The system failed Celeste, and many other women
  • Care not incarceration

There are repeated failings and missed opportunities to help women turn their lives around – and this needs to change. We need to stand united, to bring about change for those unheard voices.

Women’s Voices are here as a supportive community, enabling women who have experienced severe disadvantage to speak up, and step out!

Together, we will continue the fight to change the system for Celeste.


  • commented on November 4, 2016 by Darren Knight

    A clear and thought provoking piece; excellent work from the Women’s Voices group.

  • commented on November 16, 2016 by Paul Walker

    I knew Celeste personally and she was a beacon of light and had a very strong personality in a world of every day struggle and injustice. If she can perish in our present system then we are all at risk. Let her death remind us all each day above ground is never guaranteed. I hope her life and death becomes a force for change. I love you girl RIP Celeste. Paul Walker.

  • commented on December 30, 2016 by Vanessa baker

    It’s great that people are standing up now I suffer with mental health problems and that styal prison gave me no help they are supposed to put you on a 20/52 and check every 15mins I was on this watch once they checked me 2 in 10 hours it’s digesting aswell that when your leaving prison with no help at all I have a lot to say so I was list in the system with no one to turn to no one wan5s to really help.

  • commented on December 30, 2016 by Cathy

    I knew celeste from jail it broke my heart when i heard of her death. Well done for doing summit.

  • commented on December 31, 2016 by Claire sayers

    Carry on doing all the hard work u really are changing life’s I thank u all that helped and supported me and shown me the right path

  • commented on January 6, 2017 by suzanne boyle

    r.i.p celeste gone but not forgotton what a top girl kind hearted and would go out her way to help any one,sweet dreams celeste xxxxxxxx

  • commented on December 31, 2017 by jadey L

    rest in heavnly peace girl </3 xxxxxxx 🙁

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