On 4th November 2016 Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge attended The Nelson Trust Women’s Centre in Gloucester to meet Trustees, volunteers, staff members and women using the centre.
The event celebrated the contribution made by this unique service to the wellbeing of women with many needs across the county. The Telegraph covered the visit, click here to see the video.
The Duchess of Cambridge was formally welcomed by Chief Executive, John Trolan, and was presented to Chair of trustees, Ann Buxton. She then toured the centre with Head of Women’s Community Services, Niki Gould, who said: “HRH was very friendly and engaging, she took the time to listen to the women using the centre and hear their individual stories of accessing support to achieve lasting positive change. We are grateful to HRH for helping us to raise awareness of the support available for women experiencing complex problems and limited life choices.”
The all-female staff team told the Duchess of Cambridge about their work with the county’s most vulnerable women, including those coming out of prison or serving community sentences as well as those with complex problems including domestic abuse, homelessness, sex-working and addiction. Jolene Fear, Centre Team Leader, explained how the centre works with great sensitivity to provide dedicated individual support and an educational group programme to help women overcome social and emotional problems, build their self-esteem and achieve lasting change in their lives. Jolene commented: “It was an exciting opportunity for us as a team to have our work recognised in this way. HRH was very personable and it was obvious that she was genuinely interested in the support we offer to women.”
The Duchess visited children at the centre’s crèche and had the opportunity to talk to women who have used the centre’s services. Women such as Shanette who said: “HRH was very easy to talk to and she seemed to really care. I told her about the peer mentoring and voluntary work I do and how it’s important for me to have the opportunity to give something back to the centre, as I am very grateful for all the support they have given to me.” Katie, another woman accessing the centre, commented: “The Duchess was very nice and it seemed like she actually cared. It meant a lot that she stayed with us longer than she was supposed to and she really listened to what we were saying.”
The work at The Nelson Trust Women’s centre, was recognised nationally in 2013 when The Howard League for Penal Reform presented them with the Community Award for Women’s Services and, in 2015, a specialist project run from the Swindon centre was the runner up for the same award. This year the Trust has been shortlisted again for the ‘Women’ and the ‘Organisation of the year’ award.
Chief Executive, John Trolan, explained how the centre came into being: “For over thirty years now we have been providing residential addiction treatment for men and women from all over the UK and beyond. In 2004 we developed a specialist Women’s Programme which recognised the particularly complex lives of women in addiction: almost invariably they have been deeply impacted by trauma and abuse and have coped with this pain by using alcohol and other drugs. We realised that what we had learned over the years in our residential centre could be translated into a service in the community here. This is a safe place where women can develop trust, open up about their problems and be treated with respect and understanding.”
Since its beginnings in 2010, The Women’s Centre support model used in Gloucester has expanded to Swindon, Wiltshire and Somerset. The person-centred support model help women experiencing limited life choices and many needs to break the cycle of generational disadvantage and trauma.
Ann Buxton, the Chair of trustees said: “It was a great honour to receive a visit by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. We were impressed to see how knowledgeable she is about the difficult issues faced by our clients. I am particularly glad because the team here undertake very challenging work and achieve inspiring results. So do our clients, who really show determination and courage in overcoming their difficulties. They truly deserve this recognition, and I know that HRH understands the importance of this area of our work.”
The visit was enjoyed by all attendees, to see further photos of the day click here.