The aim of Breaking the Cycle is to prevent/reduce offending amongst disadvantaged, vulnerably housed young women by helping them move away from the Criminal Justice System towards further education, work experience and self-employment.

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Breaking The Cycle

200 young women each year define goals, plan actions, improve confidence and motivation, and develop better understanding of the job market/ self-employment.


Breaking The Cycle

100 young women are engaged to move forward towards their goal, identify the route to achieve it, develop a business plan, access further education/training or achieve interview opportunities.


Breaking The Cycle

50 young women achieve their goal and potentially train as peer mentors.

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Breaking The Cycle

For more info please email us at

For more info please email us at

Breaking the Cycle has already supported over 800 young women and will be supporting a further 400 over the next 2 years.  They are often vulnerably housed, challenged by economic, social and family circumstances and, in many cases, close to the Criminal Justice System.

Life skills coaching and employability training is being underpinned by credible peer mentoring from Startup beneficiaries. The impact of peer mentoring, by older women who have been in prison and can share how they turned their lives around, conveys the transforming possibilities of making life-changing decisions and makes this real for the young women. Mentoring includes practical workshops and 1:1 support, as well as hands-on experience of a mentor`s business, such as beauty, chocolate making, or floristry. Peer mentors are also offering  ‘a day in the life of’ their business to introduce what is involved.

Delivery is where beneficiaries live – hostels, mother/baby units  – making it easily accessible and in short training modules, capturing attention span and impacting beneficiaries in “bite-sized” chunks. Each beneficiary is receiving a total of two full days of dedicated training, covering individual assessment, life skills coaching, work on individual issues and actions to move them towards their goals, and employability training – creating a CV and practising interview techniques.

Ongoing 1:1 support is provided over the year for the 1:4 of the cohort, 50 per year, expected to move closer to specific employment, further education and self-employment goals.

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Case Study K – Breaking the Cycle project

K faced many mental health challenges growing up, anxiety and depression predominantly, which made going to school and the relationship with her parents difficult.  She ended up “going around with the wrong group where I lived and getting into all kinds of trouble with the police”.  At 15, she ended up homeless, finding shelter under the arches in Oxford.

Startup was introduced to K in 2016 at a workshop it was running in Oxford.  She had started to design and make jewellery for friends, and we were impressed with the notebook she carried around with her, with detailed sketches and prices of materials sourced.  K was keen to make and sell pieces of jewellery at various markets in Oxford.  Startup funded the materials, the stands, insurance and helped her design and print business cards.

K was introduced to E, a Startup peer mentor, who ran her own jewellery business in London.  She was able to share with K the challenges she faced leaving prison and starting her own business as well as the success she’d achieved on gaining a permanent stall and keeping her life drug free.  E helped K build her stock and was there at her first market stall in Oxford.

This year has seen K move to permanent accommodation and her jewellery business begin to grow, now selling jewellery alongside another designer.  K attended a book keeping course and is now a trained Startup peer mentor running jewellery workshops for new beneficiaries.

Case Study V – Startupnow for Women project

I have been in and out of prison for several years until my mid 30’s. Each time was going to be the last time until my daughter had a baby while I was on remand at Holloway. I remember looking at this tiny innocent baby and thinking this is not the place for her to be, I can’t let her grow up going through what I put my daughter through.

That was when I decided that I had to change my life. It was too easy to say crime is all I know and that I can’t change my life because of my record. I used the time I had to good use and used all the resources the prison had to offer and eventually I had a plan for my future.

On my realise I eventually was put in contact with Startup, and it’s been all go since. They have given me financial support with my business as well as guidance and opportunities and they have made it possible for me to turn my life around.