Heartswell South West, regional heart charity, has this week donated a new defibrillator and cabinet worth £2,000 to Plymouth’s leading women’s charity, Trevi House. 


Heartswell South West is a charitable organisation whose aims are to make a positive difference to people in the South West affected by heart disease/a heart condition and to provide accommodation for relatives, friends and carers of people undergoing treatment in hospitals across the South West. 


A defibrillator is a machine which restarts the heart in the event of a cardiac arrest.   If a defibrillator is used within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, survival rates jump from 6%-74% and therefore could save a life.


The charity has been running a vital defibrillator programme for the past 5 years providing defibrillators for communities, clubs, schools and organisations across Devon and Cornwall.  It aims to ensure that as many defibrillators as possible are placed in across the South West.


Normally the charity requests that organisations pay between £500 and £1,750 towards the cost of the defibrillator however Heartswell, on this occasion, agreed to support Trevi House in fully funding the equipment.


Trevi House is a women’s recovery charity based in Devon.  It runs a women’s only residential rehabilitation centre and can accommodate up to 10 women and their children at any given time – it’s the only women’s centre in the UK where women can keep their children through rehab. 


There is an increased potential need for defibrillator equipment within a rehabilitation environment. Some substances, for example crack cocaine, increase the risk that the user will experience a heart attack. Guidance from the Care Quality Commission recommends that centres such as Trevi House have on site access to a defibrillator.


Trevi House has been treating mums for their addiction to drugs and / or alcohol for more than 25 years.  It has a strong team of Key Support Workers, a midwife, counsellors and Aspirations Workers who provide 24/7 wrap-around support to the women and children in their care.  The women are taken for regular medical checkups at a local GP surgery and drug tests are carried out on site on a regular basis.  Women, particularly within their initial detox phase are watched closely in order to spot any medical complications.  Trevi House employees will now undergo training in how to use the life-saving defibrillator should the need arise.


Less than 100 metres down the road, Trevi House also now runs a leading community-based women’s centre; Sunflower Women’s Centre which has recently been awarded funding from the Ministry of Justice to expand its centre and work with women with criminogenic behaviours – increasing the women it supports from 60 to 200 women per annum.  This is a rapidly expanding service, with women coming in off the street on a daily basis.


Hannah Shead, CEO of Trevi House, states: “We are really grateful to Heartswell for their generosity and support for the women and children that we care for every year.  The number of women and children that we support is growing rapidly, with the opening of our new Sunflower Women’s Centre, just down the road.  We know that the women we support have a higher than normal risk of cardiac problems and so it is reassuring to know that we now have a life saving defibrillator on site.  Charities like ours have seen huge cuts over the past decade and so we simply could not afford to purchase this on our own.  We are therefore extremely thankful to Heartswell for supporting us in this way.”


Quote from Liz Harding, Operations Manager, Heartswell South West: “Trevi House provide incredible support to women who are at a high risk of cardiac arrest and we are glad that together, we have been able to ensure that their first aid kit is now fully equipped with a defibrillator. The Trevi team will be fully trained in CPR and defibrillation creating both a safer enviroment at the centre and more lifesavers in our local community.


Our charity is committed to raising awareness across the region of the growing need for defibrillators which are vital life saving pieces of equipment. We support our local communities to install their own defibrillators, knowing that with each device in situ, we are one step closer to becoming a ‘Heartsafe South West’.”


Supporters can watch a short video on the Trevi House’s You Tube channel with interviews from both Trevi and Heartswell about this vital piece of equipment.



For more details on Heartswell’s defibrillator programme, please visit click here.