Trevi House, local charity in Plymouth, has been awarded £400,000 from The Ministry of Justice to expand its Sunflower Women’s Centre.


Trevi House is one of 12 organisations across the country who have been awarded a share of £3.3 million by the Ministry of Justice – part of the Government’s commitment to divert vulnerable women from prison to community support.  The 12 successful bidders were chosen following a comprehensive assessment process. 


Since 1993, Trevi House has worked with hundreds of women and their children, getting mum off drugs or alcohol for good and giving her the skills to be the best parent she possibly can.


As well as running a 24-7 residential rehabilitation centre for mothers and children in the city, in 2016 Trevi House set up an outreach programme – the Sunflower project.  The project launched from a local church in its first year, and in January 2018, it took over the ground floor of a dental surgery.


Since moving to its current location, the number of women supported by the outreach project has grown by 100% and referrals are received daily. 


The project has now evolved into a fully functioning Sunflower Women’s Centre - the only women’s centre in Plymouth.  It is a trauma-informed women’s health and wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for those in recovery or seeking recovery.  This includes recovery in its broadest sense - from childhood trauma, substance misuse, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health.


The centre offers a range of therapeutic activities, accredited programmes and practical support in a safe, nurturing and valuing space for women to move on from their pasts, develop their skills, regain their self-worth and go on to live independent and fulfilling lives.  Practical support includes assistance with parenting, benefits, accommodation, nutrition, exercise, relationships, connecting with the community and employability. 


The Sunflower Women’s Centre currently supports 60+ women and has made a huge difference to their lives.  90% of the women say it has been a lifeline. 


The charity’s services are expanding rapidly - just last month Trevi House announced it has won a contract to deliver the Pause programme in partnership with Plymouth City Council.  Over the lifetime of this contract, Pause Plymouth will give up to 48 women the opportunity to take a ‘pause’ from the periods of chaos and anger that typically follow care proceedings, creating instead a space for them to reflect, learn and aspire. 


Due to the success of the Sunflower Women’s Centre and the rapidly expanding services offered, the centre now desperately needs to move to a larger site.


Hannah Shead, CEO of Trevi House, states: “Trevi House has been working with vulnerable women for 25 years this year; we are passionate advocates of providing a female only service that is trauma informed; we know the difference that this makes in terms of outcomes for women.


Laura Fraser-Crewes, our Strategic Lead of the Sunflower Women’s Centre and her team run a range of groups and courses including a peer mentor training programme. A number of women have already graduated from the centre to start employment or full-time education. However, there is a clear need for women only support here in the City and we have quickly outgrown our current premises.


The money from the Ministry of Justice will enable us to move our Sunflower Women’s Centre into larger premises and expand the range of services we offer, including an on-site creche.


We are delighted to know that we can make a significant difference for some of Plymouth’s most vulnerable women and empower them to rebuild their lives”. 


Tash, who is currently being supported by the centre, stated: “The power of women supporting women in a safe space is incredible. Women have a range of needs – some of us are mothers, some of us are mothers without children in our care, some of us are survivors of domestic abuse and some of us are battling with mental health. But what we have in common is the need for a service that treats us with respect and helps us learn to become autonomous”.


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