MBE is awarded for services to women prisoners
Diana Parkinson, the co-founder of a South Wimbledon-based charity providing support for disadvantaged women in prisons, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s honours list.
She co-founded Birth Companions, based in Windsor Avenue on the Lombard Trading Estate, in 1996. She was inspired to establish the charity after a group of antenatal teachers were moved by a campaign to stop the use of handcuffs for women in labour.
The charity provides practical and emotional support to pregnant women and new mothers in prison. The citation for her award, which is for services to women prisoners, says her influence has had enormous impact on improving the treatment of female prisoners giving birth. The success of the programme has led to an extension of this service across two prisons in London and in Peterborough.
Birth Companions has also further extended its support for women who have been trafficked, abused, or face other serious challenges in their lives, working closely with local authorities to receive referrals, and has been highly innovative in also offering support via an online training service for midwives.
It is widely recognised as the UK's leading organisation in its field, with high expertise in responding to the needs of perinatal women facing severe disadvantage in prison, and its success has been driven by her dedication and continuous leadership in an entirely voluntary capacity.
Ms Parkinson’s compassion and commitment is said to have inspired more than 60 people to volunteer for the organisation, and their work has been vital in giving support to the approximately 600 pregnant women incarcerated in the UK every year.
The work of the 58-year-old (left) was recognised with a Points of Light Award in 2017 for exceptional voluntary service. She has supported Birth Companions as Chair of Trustees since 2001.
December 28, 2018