A safe space for women facing difficult life challenges has been opened in the heart of Bristol – thanks to a partnership between The Nelson Trust and Addiction Recovery Agency supported by transport company First West of England.
The weekly women-only centre, for people with multiple and complex needs, is jointly funded by us and the Police and Crime Commissioner and will offer women the chance to join in- house activities and access specialist 1-2-1 support.
The centre is open every Wednesday to clients of SHE (Support, Help, Engagement) a scheme offering specialist support for women who have been arrested or are suspected of committing an offence. The service aims to divert women away from the Criminal Justice System at the earliest opportunity by addressing the reason they offended or are at a risk of offending.
Local businesses have supported the launch of the centre by offering goods and services. In a bid to support those who are facing financial difficulties Nelson Trust has partnered with First West of England to offer free bus passes for women accessing the centre. The Hartcliffe branch of Greggs will donate sweet treats for attendees attending educational sessions. In September, the centre will introduce educational workshops called ‘Pattern Changing Courses’ designed to help women take charge of their lives and build their confidence and self-esteem. The first workshop will be focused on helping women who are in, or who have been in an abusive relationship.
Rebecca Marshall, Avon and Somerset Police Partnership and Pathway Coordinator and Force Lead for SHE comments: “The new women-only centre will provide essential support and guidance to vulnerable women who are facing difficult life challenges and are in desperate need of help. This centre provides women with a safe, warm and welcoming space where they can come, share their experiences and learn how to get their lives back on track. Located in the heart of Bristol, one of Avon and Somerset’s busiest hubs, the new centre helps us target an important area that requires a significant amount of attention to help those who are at risk of being involved with the Criminal Justice System”.
Kate Hebden, Diversionary Worker – SHE at The Nelson Trust says: “Our work at The Nelson Trust plays a key role in Avon and Somerset preventing vulnerable women from coming in contact with the Criminal Justice System. Located in the heart of Bristol, the new centre, as well as the free bus passes offered by First Group will help us remove the barriers Women face in accessing support and enable us to build relationships with women who previously would not have been able to travel to the centre. We are excited to see important steps being taken to help women with serious life problems before they commit life-changing crimes”.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “This new women’s centre in Bristol will play an important role in the city and fill a gap in local women services. This brilliant new addition will support women in the community who most need it, offer them a place of safety and give them an opportunity for their voices to be heard. The support available will make a phenomenal difference to vulnerable women and empower them to turn their lives around for the better.”
James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England said: “As Bristol’s bus company, it’s really important to me that we support our local communities whenever we can, so when the Nelson Trust asked for our support to help their clients get to appointments, we were very happy to help. By removing the worry of how they will pay for travel, we can do our bit to help improve engagement with the SHE programme and provide the practical support they need.”
The Nelson Trust will also be distributing toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste and sanitary products, as well as warm clothes and food to those who visit the centre and are in desperate need.
The Nelson Trust also recently opened a women’s centre in Bridgwater that is currently helping approximately 150 women in the Somerset area. The centre is currently only open for police referrals but there are plans to make it a drop-in centre once full staffing is in place.
If you are interested in donating clothes, food or toiletries to the centre, or for further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Main photo: L-R James Freeman of First, Kirsty Harris and Kate Hebden of The Nelson Trust, Rebecca Marshall of Avon and Somerset Police and Niki Gould of The Nelson Trust.