A day with the women of Ladies of Hope Ministries
Women from the Ladies of Hope Ministries stopped by Virgin’s office in New York recently for a day of engaging workshops and meaningful conversations with the team.
Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) is a non-profit organisation on a mission to end the crisis of poverty and the incarceration of women and girls. Founded by Dr Topeka K Sam in 2017, LOHM provides safe housing, re-entry support, and advocacy programs for women and girls who are impacted by the criminal legal system.
The session began with Topeka posing a question to the Virgin team: “How many of you have been impacted by the criminal legal system, whether you yourself have been incarcerated or someone in your life has?” Despite no hands raised, Topeka continued, sharing her story and experience as a formerly incarcerated woman. Topeka characterised her time in prison as an inhumane experience, quickly coming to the alarming conclusion that “prison and jail are not conducive to healing and rehabilitation”.
Topeka harnessed this experience and immediately upon release, made it her mission to change the system and create opportunities for women to lead flourishing lives post-incarceration. This includes connecting them to resources like housing, food, and healthcare, as well as employment, entrepreneurship, and educational opportunities.
In an inspiring display of vulnerability, the women opened up and shared their stories, recounting the judgment and obstacles faced upon release. According to LOHM, one in three people are impacted by the criminal legal system, which limits their access to employment and financial security. With the support of Topeka and LOHM, these women are now paving the way to break that cycle. LOHM empowers women impacted by the criminal legal system to understand that they deserve to have fulfilling careers and resources to support themselves and their families.
After hearing a bit about LOHM, the teams at Virgin gave presentations about what they do in their roles and shared a bit about their career paths. The women at LOHM heard from the investment team, brand team and communications team, before heading to breakout workshops to delve further into these discussions. The workshops were all focused on the Virgin traits – Be Human, Be Brave, and Be Visionary. The teams met with women from a variety of LOHM programs including the Pathways for Equity (P4E), which focuses on establishing career pathways in a variety of industries, Faces of Women Imprisoned (FOWI), which focuses on becoming effective public speakers and storytellers, and the EPIC Ambassadors, which focuses on driving advocacy and policy change.
The day wrapped up with a team lunch, providing an opportunity to extend conversations and strengthen relationships further. Before departing, Topeka asked the room again who had been impacted by the criminal legal system, and every single hand was raised.
Virgin Unite is proud to support the work of the Ladies of Hope Ministries. To learn more visit https://thelohm.org/.