On Monday 21st September 2015, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal attended our Education, Training and Employment Centre at Hope Mills Business Park to meet trustees, staff members and clients of The Nelson Trust.
The event marked the 30th Anniversary of The Nelson Trust and the contribution made by the centre to the wellbeing of people struggling with addiction. This is where clients can learn new skills and gain qualifications for the workplace.
The Princess Royal was formally welcomed by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, Mr Robert Bernays and was presented to the Chairman of Stroud District Council, Cllr Mark Rees; Chairman of Brimscombe Parish Council, Cllr Bill Harvey; Chair of the Nelson Trust, Ann Buxton; Chief Executive of The Nelson Trust, John Trolan; and Jennifer East, Education, Training and Employment Centre Manager. Her Royal Highness then toured the centre with Sue Smith, Clinical Manager, and talked to clients absorbed in their art and craft activities. Sue Smith explained how rehab works and the importance of equipping clients with skills for the workplace. She outlined how the work at the STAR Centre helps to build self-esteem so that those struggling with addiction can achieve lasting change.
Our aim is to empower anyone struggling with an addiction. The centre is vital when clients first come to us. Art therapy, music, peer mentoring, gardening, creative writing, yoga and fitness classes all help to build self-esteem. When they are ready to focus on the future, they can gain qualifications and learn valuable skills for the workplace. We couldn’t succeed without our amazing staff and volunteers who are dedicated and passionate about their work”. Sue thanked the many local trusts, foundations and individuals who have enabled the STAR Centre to go from strength to strength since its foundation in 2004.
Her Royal Highness sat with a group of clients and listened to how The Nelson Trust is helping them conquer their addictions. They then headed for the conservatory where The Princess Royal learned about the causes of addiction and the many ways that The Nelson Trust’s abstinence-based treatment helps them break free. As it was such a lovely sunny day, they then went into the garden where clients grow their own fruit and vegetables. Here Her Royal Highness met staff, trustees, supporters and volunteers who have helped The Nelson Trust make such an impact.
The Princess Royal then unveiled a plaque and Nicholas Graham, a client at The Nelson Trust, presented her with a beautiful piece of stained glass made by Russell Campbell. Both men have benefited from the art and craft therapy at The Star Centre.
Ann Buxton, Chair, spoke of her pride in her team: “We are honoured to welcome The Princess Royal, and I am particularly glad because the team here undertake very challenging work and achieve inspiring results. So do our clients, who really show determination and courage in overcoming their difficulties. They truly deserve this recognition, and I know that The Princess Royal is someone who understands the importance of this area of our work.”
The STAR Centre is the Education, Training and Employment department of The Nelson Trust. Each day, around 40 clients pass through the doors for a workshop or course which will help develop employability and life skills. Clients have the opportunity to gain qualifications in accredited courses. As a result of the strong links with Stroud College, they run popular stained glass, pottery and writing classes. Beanie Cooke, the STAR’s Horticultural Therapist, is in charge of the beautiful gardens. Her green fingers have created an abundant plot. Set alongside the twinkling River Frome, this is a nourishing space where clients can gain valuable horticultural skills, producing fresh healthy fruit and vegetables for their tables. Jennifer says, “When people hear about what happens at The STAR, they talk in terms of how rewarding the work must be. They are right, of course, but I would also say it is as challenging as it is rewarding, and never dull. Energy and enthusiasm are what makes The STAR such a fantastic place.”