PCC praises charity's support for female offenders on International Women’s Day
The Nelson Trust has been supporting vulnerable people since 1985 and Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson is using International Women’s Day as an opportunity to showcase the positive difference they make in the lives of female offenders and the wider community.
The charity provides specialist rehabilitation for those women that commit minor first offences, who have been dealt with by the police with the aim of preventing any future offending, helping individuals move away from crime and improve their life chances.
PCC Philip Wilkinson said: “Whilst it’s important that the police and wider criminal justice system deals with offenders robustly, only by working with and rehabilitating those offenders will we prevent further offences from being committed.
“This service offered by The Nelson Trust, and commissioned by my office, ensures that female offenders are guided away from committing further offences and instead given the tools and opportunities to turn their lives around and have a positive impact in their local communities.”
This is in addition to the other services tailored for vulnerable women including offender resettlement, their sex worker outreach project and supporting both clients and their friends and family in dealing with drug and/or alcohol addiction.
Niki Gould, Head of Women’s Community Services said: “From our Women’s Centres, we support over 2000 women a year experiencing multiple challenges in their lives including substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness, domestic abuse and previous trauma.
“It is widely recognised that the work we do from our Women’s Centres is effective in reducing women’s offending and we want to stop more women getting swept up into the criminal justice system impacting the lives of women, their children and our communities.
“Our women’s Out Of Court Disposal (OOCD) service, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, means that we can intervene earlier and divert more women away from the criminal justice system at the earliest opportunity.”
'Without the support of The Nelson Trust, I wouldn’t be here today.'
I was born into a life of domestic abuse and ended up in women’s refuges with my mum and little brother. I was sexually abused at ages 5 and 7 but I kept my horrendous secrets in fear I would not be believed. As I grew up, I got into relationships with abusive partners, and I was getting into trouble with the police. My mental health was rapidly declining, and I turned to drugs and alcohol to block out my memories. I hated everything about myself and took an overdose to try and end my life.
I hit rock bottom when my children went to stay full time with my mum and stepdad. Without my children I felt I had lost everything. I got into another abusive relationship and was arrested when I would snap and hit him back. He would call the police and claim it was him being abused.
This is when things changed. While in police custody I was told about The Nelson Trust. I agreed to a referral and received phone calls, texts and letters from a key worker offering support and the reassurance she would be there for me when I was ready to meet. For months I was too scared to answer or respond, I didn’t think anyone could help me or understand my pain.
Soon after I met my keyworker, there was another incident with my abusive ex where I ended up being arrested again. But this time my keyworker was there for me, reassuring me I was not alone and making sure I was safe when I came home and that my family knew I was okay. I was never charged by the police, an officer said they could see that I was a victim.
My keyworker helped make my house safe from my ex, she came to meetings with my drug and alcohol worker, housing officer and social worker. Together we sorted out my debt, arranged doctors’ appointments and she supported me with an application to the Nelson Trust rehab in Stroud. She helped me understand I did not need to feel scared and was not on my own anymore.
Now I am a Peer Support Volunteer and I have my family back. I see my daughters every day and together we are making happy memories. I am the happy, confident, healthy mum I always wanted to be, and am now one year sober.
My keyworker always reminds me to feel empowered, and she says that it is me who has done all the hard work – she has just been there alongside me. I have so much thanks to her and the amazing team who are so dedicated to making a change and difference in women’s lives. Without the support of The Nelson Trust, I wouldn’t be here today.