Our History

Women’s Work was set up in 2003 and became a registered charity in 2006.  Originally based in offices on Charnwood Street in Derby, the charity focused on supporting street sex workers in the city but quickly discovered that their families needed support too.  The charity evolved and added many more new projects to its portfolio of interventions to include support for families, women in the criminal justice system and the wider community. With increasing demand, and broader geographical coverage, came a need for larger premises and we moved first to The Chapel and then to The Villa, both still on Charnwood Street.  

In 2020 we achieved a major goal and moved to The Convent, a beautiful Grade 2 listed building on Bridge Gate, Derby, previously occupied by the Sisters of Mercy.  Our staff numbers have increased exponentially too, from the original 3 stalwarts to the current 34 supported by a small army of volunteers. We have expanded and developed our pathways of support and we have built a sound reputation as a professional service provider working with, and supporting, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged women across Derbyshire.  

The History of The Convent

The Convent of Mercy was established in 1849, by The Sisters of Mercy, as a safe place for women and girls in Derby.

The Sisters of Mercy are a religious congregation founded by Catherine McAuley. McAuley was born in 1778 in Dublin, Ireland. At the age of 46, she used an inheritance from an Irish couple who she had worked for over the previous twenty years to build a large House of Mercy, where herself and others would provide care for the sick and dying, educate poor girls and shelter homeless women. The House took three years to build and opened its doors in 1827.

Catherine recognised that their efforts would need great stability to continue their impact, so herself and two co-workers created a new religious congregation, the Sisters of Mercy, in December 1831.

Catherine then spent the next decade of her life founding new convents and continuing her merciful work across Ireland and England, before her death in November 1841. Her legacy has been continued by The Sisters of Mercy since her passing and the congregation still exists to this day.

171 years after the Convent of Mercy in Derby was first founded, Women's Work moved in to the Convent, continuing the work to support the most disadvantaged and vulnerable women across Derbyshire.

The Convent Garden

Our Achievements

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    Shortlisted for the National Impact Awards 2020

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    National Impact Award Winner 2008

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    Kings Fund & GSK Champion of Champions Award Winner 2012

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    National Diversity Award Finalist 2016

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    Derby Evening Telegraph Business Awards Winner 2017

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    Centre for Social Justice Award Finalist 2019

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    Highly Commended East Midlands Charity of the Year 2018 & 2019

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    Winner Community Action Award 2019