When Body & Soul was founded in 1996, I could not have imagined that 20 years later we would be where we are today. From that small office with one phone in Hammersmith to our first centre in The Royal Homoeopathic Hospital to the specially designed centre in Clerkenwell where we are now, the thing that is common to every physical space we have inhabited is that feeling of home – a place of love, acceptance and courage.
Now ten years on in our current home we see hundreds of members accessing our services every week – from babies to granddads. They come to access an evidence based programme of change that helps them transform traumatic experiences in their past into a more hopeful future. The programme includes one-to-one as well as group therapeutic support, health and wellbeing seminars, legal support and advocacy, psycho-education, employment programmes and complementary therapies.
Although we have evolved and adapted over the years to meet our members’ needs, one of the things that has always remained constant is our determination to support our members in all aspects of their lives – their physical, mental and psychosocial health, the practical issues they face and their need to be productive in their lives. This sets us apart from other healthcare organisations and services that tend to treat the symptoms rather than the whole person. Where others see a diagnosis, a symptom, we see a person with a past, a present and a future. Ultimately we believe that nobody should have their life chances reduced because of traumatic experiences in their past.
The world has changed hugely since 1996 and over the past few years we have been taking stock of where Body & Soul is now and how it might grow and develop in the future. As we enter our 21st year – a milestone for us, just as it is in the lives of members on the cusp of adulthood – we are about to embark on a new and exciting phase in Body & Soul’s journey. While the core elements of our mission will remain the same – our whole-person approach and the bravery, love and wisdom that underpin our ethos – some things will change. Most significantly, we are beginning to extend the unique Body & Soul model of care to other groups that stand to benefit from it.
We were established to support people affected by HIV, and while we will continue to work tirelessly with these members, we will also work with groups who are not affected by HIV: earlier this year, we started working with young people who are adopted and their adoptive parents, helping them to navigate the challenges that can occur as a result of family disruption; and in January, we will be launching a new programme tailored to the needs of adolescents who have attempted suicide. In other words, we are about to embark on a period of unprecedented growth and development – a daunting but exciting prospect…
When we come together with our funders, supporters and friends at Caravan on Sunday evening, I will be thanking everyone for supporting Body & Soul over the last two decades and asking for their continued support as we move into the future. As we expand our mission to new groups of people in the coming months and years, we will need their help, and yours, to ensure we achieve the impact we know is possible with our transformational programme. We have exciting plans for the coming year, including the launch of a new website, followed by a number of special events that will culminate in a party to celebrate our 21st birthday in November 2017. Keep your eyes on the website and our Facebook and Twitter accounts for details!