We want to support anyone struggling with addiction. We became aware of women suffering within our area. These women have had childhoods characterised by loss and trauma and are therefore very vulnerable to violence and exploitation. With 30 years’ experience, The Nelson Trust has the expertise to empower these women and we inspire them to address the issues that led to them being in this difficult situation. WE reach out to them on the streets so that we can get them through the doors of our Women’s Centres, and Rehab.
We operate out of two Women’s Centres in Gloucester and Swindon. We reach out at night by taking food, condoms, and vital information about Ugly Mugs in each area. We start by building relationships and talk to the women about their options. We offer them a place of safety and some respite from the street. Our aim is to get them to our Women’s Centres where they get structured support and the opportunity to get into rehab.
The women have a variety of needs. We seek to address these. This is a safe haven – we’re confidential and discreet and offer unconditional, non-judgemental support. Where there’s been abuse and violence, we provide crisis-led support. We use The National Ugly Mug database to let the women know about potential perpetrators of sexual violence. We offer practical support and safety advice; sexual health info; free alarms, condoms and pregnancy testing; nutritious food and drink; warm clothing; and access to our Women’s Centres, where they can receive a range of specialist interventions.
At our two centres, there are professionals, specialising in a range of services: one-to-one counselling and workshops: drug and alcohol awareness; freedom from domestic violence programme; substance misuse interventions with CGL in Gloucester and Turning Point in Swindon/Wiltshire; Emotional Health and Wellbeing; self-esteem and anger-management; employability skills, arts and crafts. We help women to access exiting pathways and offer them the opportunity to consider our abstinence-based specialist women’s residential rehab in Stroud.
Yes, that’s right. A whole range of complex needs; childhood trauma and abuse, poor physical and emotional health, homelessness, limited access to mainstream services, with addiction often being the end result.
In the past, sex workers have been fined by police for soliciting. Criminalisation of sex working women is unhelpful as it does not address their underlying needs or trauma. Now, they’re able to work with our Sex Worker Outreach Workers. This gives the women increased opportunity. We really do support them towards positive change.
We have a unique voice in a crowded space. Government services are bound by protocol, but a charity has the power to be a conduit, operating alongside agencies, combining professionalism with the acceptance and joined-up approach that these women need.
Once a month, we get together with local agencies to discuss women at high risk of harm. We work very closely with local Drug Services and the local homeless team. By collaborating, we are able to assess risk more thoroughly. We work with all local service, including social services, housing, domestic violence agencies, and sexual health professionals.
This is an extremely vulnerable group of women. Their needs are often ignored by society. We want to work with the media to change attitudes and bring about reform to ensure lasting change for all women who have been exploited.
We can help them in so many ways, especially with safe housing, drug services, residential rehab, benefits, debt advice, resettlement, criminal justice issues, as well as healthcare for both physical and mental health and comprehensive support with emotional health and well-being.