Nelson Trust

The Nelson Trust began life in 1985 as a provider of residential drug treatment services in Gloucestershire. It also provides personalised, therapeutic and practical support for women in the criminal justice system, through its ISIS Women’s Centre in Gloucester.

Lankelly Chase’s original grant to the Nelson Trust supported their Change Team, who work in the community and outside the criminal justice system with women experiencing a range of other problems such as mental ill health, social services involvement and homelessness. The Nelson Trust is also amending its core services to better meet the needs of these women, including support around education, training and employment, counselling provision, financial advice, and ‘early attachment’ work with mothers and babies.

There is a strong ‘relational’ aspect to the work of the Change Team in that by creating a strong, positive, trusting and healthy professional relationship between ‘workers’ and ‘clients’, women’s self-confidence can be built to the point where they believe in their own capacity for real change and see that their life can be different. The Nelson Trust is also demonstrating that the boundaries of current service provision can be broken to reach more marginalised women, and they can be engaged more effectively this way.

This was followed by a second grant to support the Nelson Trust’s work with women involved in sex work in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire; they found that these women were in significant need of outreach support, but were not being engaged in services through existing means. Their goal is to reduce the number of women involved in street sex working (or being harmed by off-street sex working) by improving multi-agency identification, support, policies and early interventions for girls and young women whose childhood experiences – especially abuse – may be precursors to sex working. An external evaluation will test out how a new, strategic approach can shift attitudes and improve services for some of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised people, and make an evidence-based contribution to what is often a highly contested national debate.

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