Feature: Ilkeston Women’s Group help the homeless

Rose baxter
Rose baxter

Rosemary Baxter’s life was heading in the wrong direction before she became part of Ilkeston Women’s Group.

She had found herself before the courts on drugs charges after becoming involved with a bad crowd.

Now the 22-year-old has aspirations of helping other women who find themselves in similar positions.

Rose is part of a small group of women supervised by the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company. They have raised funds to start creating survival kits for offenders who are temporarily homeless or facing hard times.

The toiletry bags contain basic supplies such as a flannel and soap, toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, comb and a pair of pants.

Rose, from Long Eaton, said: “I got in with the wrong crowd and started drug dealing class B drugs. I got in over my head. I was threatened with a jail sentence so I gave up drugs and turned my life around.

“When I was offending I had no money and couldn’t keep myself clean. It’s the little things you take for granted like a toothbrush and underwear. These little kits make it easier to deal with things.”

She said having the support and being told she can do something positive was a huge help, as she had always done stuff that was detrimental to her life. Now she feels she can give something back.

Daryl Martinson, who works for the DLNR CRC at the Ilkeston office and lives in the area, said: “Sometimes women can be disadvantaged, have relationship problems or have been abused. I thought it would be a good idea to start a women’s group, so we started working on craft projects.”

She explained that the funds were initially raised by the women selling handmade Christmas items to probation staff members. “These women are very motivated and wanted to do something for service users in the area who are maybe facing particular hardships and don’t even have the basic toiletries to keep clean,” she said. “We will receive referrals from probation practitioners who are supervising men and women requiring some basic support.

“The women’s group has evolved in an extremely positive way and is helping to build the participants’ self-confidence and motivation to change their lives for the better. Some of the women, who are helping with the project, have completed their community order but have wanted to continue with the group.

“The survival kit project is an excellent example of the service users thinking of other people’s needs and what they can do to help in a small practical way.

The kits are handed out by offender managers at the Ilkeston office, which covers Erewash and areas of Amber Valley.

All of the bags are made by the women and they are currently in need of a new sewing machine to replace the old one they are currently using, and also need donations of fabric.

Daryl, whose career has seen her work as a poll tax inspector and with the police, added: “No matter what someone has done in life they sometimes just need a bit of a stepladder. We hope to motivate people to change their lifestyle and behaviour.

“I have always worked with people with difficulties.”