Growing the success of Trevi House and the Sunflower Women’s Centre

With 73,000 children in care in the UK, and the cost of each child in care running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, charities like Trevi House are carrying out vital work to help vulnerable and addicted mothers to heal, grow and thrive.

Trevi House in Plymouth is one of the UK’s only residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services working with mothers who are able to keep their children with them during 24 weeks of live-in therapeutic work and support.

Recently featured on BBC Panorama, the charity has shown over 25 years that mothers who are allowed to remain with their children during rehabilitation are much more likely to recover completely and for the long term. They are also more likely to keep their children out of care.

In 2016, the charity established the Sunflower Women’s Centre as a long-term outreach programme for ex-Trevi residents and other women in recovery. Since then, the centre has evolved to provide services to all women in or seeking recovery, or wishing to address and resolve substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminal risk potential, domestic violence or poor mental health. It is the only women’s centre in Plymouth.

Working with the Ministry of Justice throughout 2018, the Sunflower Centre expanded its remit to include women offenders and ex-offenders, in line with the Government’s female offender strategy. The Ministry of Justice subsequently funded the purchase of a larger building to facilitate increasing the number of women the centre can effectively support from 60 to 200 plus each year.

Allchurches Trust recently awarded the Sunflower Women’s Centre a grant towards making its new building fit-for-purpose and to convert one floor into an Ofsted-registered, trauma-informed crèche for children of mothers participating in recovery and aspirations programmes.

Trauma underpins all the experiences of the women who present at Trevi House and the Sunflower Centre: 85% have suffered childhood trauma; 70% domestic abuse; 75% have a history of sexual violence; 50% have been homeless; 40% have been sex workers and 50% have lost a child.

Many of the children who will be cared for in the crèche have been raised in chaotic environments, witnessed or experienced domestic abuse and may have spent time living apart from their mothers. The crèche will support children’s emotional and social development while supporting their mother’s continued recovery after rehabilitation.