Trevi, the leading women’s charity based in Plymouth, Devon, has today been presented with a Howard League Community Award for its work with women to desist crime.
Trevi’s award was based on its life changing work at its Sunflower Women’s Centre and was presented to Laura Fraser-Crewes, Sunflower’s Strategic Lead, at a virtual ceremony on Zoom on Tuesday 20 October.
The Howard League for Penal Reform’s annual community awards celebrate the country’s most successful community projects encouraging desistance from crime. Projects which help to keep people out of the criminal justice system by providing alternative, proportionate, effective and targeted interventions will help reduce the risk of re-offending. The awards recognise projects and organisations whose work and practice are delivered above and beyond normal service delivery.
Trevi’s award was made under the ‘women’ category. This category is about promoting good practice by the police and other agencies and prevent women ending up in the penal system when it is unnecessary. Many women arrested by the police do not need to be caught in the criminal justice net. The women’s category looks for projects that offer gender specific provision to address the needs of women in contact with the criminal justice system at the earliest stage possible. This may include projects that demonstrate trauma informed approaches to practice that address the holistic needs of women, and those that either deliver, or support onward referrals to, gender specific and gender sensitive services.
Trevi runs three key centres in Plymouth. This includes a residential rehabilitation centre exclusively for mothers and children, the Sunflower Women’s Centre which is based in the community and Daffodil House, a family centre. It was Sunflower which was the specific focus of this award.
Sunflower has evolved immensely over the past 4 years. In 2016, the charity recognised that many Trevi women began relocating to Plymouth. Following consultation with the growing recovery community, a Sunflower Women’s community project was designed. Funding was received from the National Lottery for 3 years and Sunflower was born. By 2018, the project was bursting at the sides with 60+ beneficiaries and 2 co-located partners.
Thanks to the Ministry of Justice and a capital appeal, funding was awarded for Sunflower to purchase a large building complete with a 140m² health and wellbeing suite, counselling, training rooms and a trauma informed creche. In May-19, the Police and Crime Commissioner officially opened the Sunflower Women’s Centre. Since then referrals have increased by 300%, with 500+ women registered. The Sunflower Women’s Centre service has flourished into a place of change and transformation.
Sunflower now offers a wrap-around therapeutic service for any woman in recovery. This includes recovery from addiction, mental ill health, criminogenic behaviours and domestic abuse. The team of compassionate and aspirational team of Sunflower Practitioners ensures a personalised package of early interventions which includes accredited training, group work, counselling, creative therapies, drop-in, fitness classes, parenting support, peer mentoring and more. Co-located partners include Probation services, Department of Work and Pensions, Sexual health, Pause Plymouth and other third sector agencies, which helps to ensure that Sunflower can offer the range of support needed. 90% of women supported by Sunflower say it has been a lifeline, with 75% able to move forward in life.
Sunflower is considered an empowering force diverting women away from criminogenic behaviours. It offers them safety through being in a women’s only environment, occupation through its structured timetable of training and groups and importantly, connection – helping women to grow their social capital. Sunflower has worked hard to reduce any barriers to attendance, such as childcare. Sunflower now runs a trauma informed creche, Sunflower Seeds, which was set up earlier this year. Women can attend their appointments safe in the knowledge their child is being cared for by a qualified trauma informed Specialist Attachment Practitioner. Removing barriers like this increases women’s engagement further contributing to women’s desistance from crime.
Laura Fraser-Crewes, Strategic Lead of Sunflower Women’s Centre states: “We are so honoured and proud to have won this Howard League Community Award. Sunflower has not been around for that long but thanks to our hard working team and wonderful partners such as Probation Services and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner Devon and Cornwall, we know that it is making a difference to more than 500 women every year in our local community. Winning a Howard League Community Award is great as it gives us another platform to talk about our work which helps to strengthen women’s voices, ultimately to ensure that women are given the right support and not caught up in the criminal justice net.”