Families, colleagues, volunteers and charity supporters, from all over the country, gathered together last night to hear and share stories of hope and courage, as part of an evening of celebration, to mark 25 years of local women’s charity, Trevi House.
The room, at PL1, was filled with laughter, smiles and tears, as women and their families reunited and reminisced about their time at the Plymouth-based drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre, which works exclusively with mothers and their children.
Launched in 1993, Trevi House remains the only service of its kind in the UK. Something the charity and the mums would like to see change and are fighting to make happen.
Opening the evening, Hannah Shead, CEO of Trevi House, addressed the room: “We are unique and I am proud of the fact we are unique. But there is something sad that we are the only provision of our kind. We know that in this country every 16 minutes, a child is taken into care. Yet, there is only one Trevi House.
“We’ve survived 25 years and this is down to the sheer grit, belief and determination of the people involved with Trevi but I think also, we have a constant reminder of why we do what we do. It’s not always easy, at times, it’s very challenging but anyone looking around the room tonight can be given a reminder of why we are still fighting to have a service that keeps mothers and their children together.”
The special event was attended by current and former residents, who all spoke highly of the care and treatment they have received or are receiving.
“It means the world to me; they’ve really helped me get off methadone, they’ve sorted my issues out,” explains 27-year-old, Denise, who is currently a resident at Trevi House. “It’s still ongoing but it’s given me a second chance in life. It’s given me my baby back. I think there needs to be a lot more of these, all around the world – that’s how massive I want it to be.”
Denise’s sentiments were echoed by Cali, who shared her story about being able to stay with her son and receive treatment for her addiction at Trevi House, more than 20 years ago. Cali now has three more children, has gained her degree, got married, in a job she loves and is living her ‘dream life’.
“I really don’t believe, I would be alive today, if it wasn’t for Trevi House. It’s a truly special place, but let’s not underestimate how difficult the process is of going through the treatment. It’s a really difficult time but, at the same time, it’s a really transforming time as well. A lot of growth, a lot of pain, is faced; you have to look at your demons. In order to get well, we have to shine a light on our darkness.
“I remember when I first arrived, a lady called Roma French was running it. I remember saying to her, the amount of money it costs to remove my son and put him in care and you equate that with the costs to do rehab with him, the figures just don’t add up and doesn’t make sense.”
In addition to Cali’s powerful speech, the room also heard from current and former colleagues and volunteers and were shown a video of two of the former children of Trevi House. Now grown up, Jasmine and Aisha, spoke on a film produced by Jasmine, called ‘Trevi House: Where Life Began…’ about their experiences of living at Trevi House with their mums. Their video was followed by a powerful rendition of ‘Never Enough’, performed by recent resident, Natalie.
As the evening began drawing to a close, the words of Trevi’s newly-announced Patron, Jenny Molloy, was ringing through everyone’s ears, as she described why she not only felt privileged to be asked to be the first Patron of Trevi House but the difference it had made to her life.
“I said I wasn’t going to take on another Patron role and then Hannah found me and Trevi found me and I was absolutely bowled over by the magic that happens in Trevi House and something special happened to me. I didn’t know mums could recover, I didn’t know it could happen. Mums lose their babies and then get them back and get into recovery and go on to be successful, independent, amazing women. I just never knew it was possible.
“When I came to Trevi I saw that, and I see it with all the amazing women I am seeing it every single time. Two months ago, I contacted my mum because I just want to be friends and to create a different ending. I found out she’s five years in recovery; she’s five years clean at 80 years old. If I had not been with Trevi, and the magic Trevi brings, I would never have contacted her.
“We’ve only got one Trevi; thank god we we’ve got a Trevi. But we wouldn’t have Trevi if it wasn’t for all of the staff. The staff are absolutely unbelievable.”
The microphone was handed back to Hannah, for the closing speech of the evening. She shared with the families and guests, Trevi’s continued commitment to reach more families, to continue to change public perception, to use their collective experience to make change, as well as provide news of the charity’s plans for the future and the developments of the Sunflower Centre and latest project, Pause.
“We have a message of hope; we have a message that says the right support can create change. We want to change more lives and that is what we are going to be working to do in the future.”