Welcome message from Emma Colyer MBE, Director of Body & Soul
The first quarter of 2017 was momentous for Body & Soul: January saw the first registrations of members in our newest programme, which supports young people who have attempted suicide. This means our doors are now open to people who are struggling with suicidality as well as children and teens who have been adopted, and families affected by HIV.
Our new mission is built around the fact that these three groups are more likely than the general population to have experienced significant childhood adversity: our programmes are designed to mitigate the effects of early life trauma and to transform past struggles into future hope and fulfilment. In practice, this means extending the model of care that we developed over the last 20 years, and tailoring it to the needs of the new populations we are now working with.
As this is the first quarterly report we have prepared since our three programmes have been fully operational, it feels like a fitting time to alter the format of the report to reflect our whole-person approach and our interest in the experiences and challenges that our members have in common. For this reason, you’ll notice some changes in this and subsequent reports. Although we will continue to give you highlights from each of our different programmes and impact areas, reports from now on will include a more in-depth look at a specific age group.
This report is focusing on our youngest members (new born babies to 12 year olds). Members in this age group span the programmes for children who have been adopted (Young Explorers) and children who are living with or affected by HIV. Please do take the time to read about some of the activities that took place in our children’s programmes from January to March this year – follow this link. You can also find our featured case study – Ruby, aged 12 – here.
I hope that having a clear focus for each of the quarterly reports will give you a more detailed sense of the work we do with people of all ages, and the evidence behind it. Our next report will focus on teens, followed by young adults (up to 30 years), followed by older adults (30+).
Please do get in touch if you have any feedback on the new format of the quarterly report – or indeed the new mission as a whole. We would love to hear from you.
Highlights from the other services
At the start of the year we made some changes to the structure of the Young Adults programme to take better account of our members’ needs and to promote deeper engagement: we now work in cycles of three weeks, and have replaced weekly one-off workshops with courses that run over three successive weeks. This allows us to adopt a more considered approach that ultimately has a deeper impact on members. Two of the most popular courses this quarter were: Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), a skills-based cognitive-behavioural therapy that has been shown to help a wide range of people who struggle to manage their emotions; and Coaching for the Future, an employment-focused programme in which professionals from our corporate partners at Tokio Marine (a specialty insurance company) provide one-to-one career coaching.
‘The coaching sessions were extremely helpful. Even though I’m already a professional there was still quite a lot of fine tuning that my application process required. It was a great chance for someone to highlight to me which points and cases I could improve on.’
- Ben, aged 28
You are not alone
As part of our programme for young people (16-25 years old) who have attempted suicide, we worked with six students from University College London (UCL) to identify the groups that are most susceptible to suicide attempts. Our emphasis is on those that are hard to reach and therefore less likely to be receiving support from statutory services. The report produced by the UCL students has been useful in informing our approach to referrals, and should bear fruit in the coming months.
Body & Soul’s support does not end once members leave the building. Through our Beyond Boundaries service, funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, we keep in close touch with members who are unable to come to the centre for health or logistical reasons (e.g. distance), or who are going through particularly challenging times. Part of Beyond Boundaries’ role is to oversee members’ journeys from childhood to adulthood and to ensure the different services are fully integrated (e.g. that the needs of a child attending the children’s centre and her mother attending the adult service are seen as part of the same system). With this in mind, the Beyond Boundaries programme manager has begun coordinating and chairing our weekly One-to-one Interventions Review meeting at which all service leads discuss the cases of individual members who are presenting with particular concerns. The aim of this is to make sure we are being as responsive as possible to individual members’ needs and preventing anyone from falling through the net.