Vulnerable Women Helped to Break the Cycle by pioneering programme

Published
11.01.2021

A ground-breaking project to help vulnerable women turn their lives around is set to be extended when Gloucester City Council’s cabinet meets on Wednesday.

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Called the ‘Vulnerable Women with Complex Needs’ scheme, it is aimed at women have experienced significant trauma in their lives leading to issues such homelessness, involvement in crime, sex working, drug and alcohol addiction as well difficulty maintain relationships and looking after their children.

Set up in March 2018, it’s delivered by the Women’s Centre of Gloucestershire based Nelson Trust which works with participants to try to address their issues and to make some positive changes in their lives. 

Co-commissioned by Gloucester City Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucester City Homes, the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Clinical Commissioning Group, it provides individual case workers to service users to give practical and emotional support. They also work to improve their skills and education with the goal of increasing employment prospects.

The scheme aims to break the cycle of the women only coming into contact with services at a time of crisis and aims to join up the services that they receive so that can make a real and lasting impact.

It’s informed by Gloucestershire’s pioneering work on adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) which found that specific traumatic events, for example witnessing frequent domestic abuse, before the age of 18 years can lead to intense stress and a greater risk of health, educational and or social problems in later life.

In addition, the programme which has so far helped around 20 women, also saves public money which would otherwise be spent on police dealing with anti-social behaviour, visits to A&E, temporary accommodation and social services.

On Wednesday Gloucester City Councillors will vote whether to extend the scheme’s work by an extra twelve months so that it can help current participants further and to work with more vulnerable women as well as involving more organisations in providing support.

Jolene Fear, manager of Gloucester Women’s Centre, said: “This project has been an exciting opportunity for us to offer an intensive model of support to some of Gloucester’s most vulnerable women.  We have seen some incredible life changes and achievements made by the clients through the trusting and empowering relationships they have built with their key workers.  We will always believe that change is possible.  We’re delighted to received the investment in our service and the creative joined up commissioning from all involved in funding this project.”

Councillor Jennie Watkins, Cabinet member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “The women that have been helped by this project have suffered terrible trauma in their lives which many of us may struggle to imagine. Understandably, they have faced real challenges as adults and need a helping hand to support them on a different path. This different way of working has shown better results for the women and children and has saved costs. Extending the scheme will significantly increase the quality of more women’s lives, and their children’s, so the impact really is immeasurable and I’d like to thank the commissioning partners and the Nelson Trust for their commitment.”

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