While it is intrinsically empowering to feel part of a broader community, we have also always offered an environment that maximises the a feeling of respect and minimises factors that could trigger difficult emotions and memories. Staff are trained to speak and move with thoughtfulness, to operate within a strengths model of care, while the building we work within is designed to be as soothing as it is enthusing for people of all ages. This entire ‘healing’ context ensures we can impact people’s lives, while reinforcing the therapeutic impact of any more specific interventions we make.
We are committed to a positive future for all our members, no matter when they get to us or the nature of their difficult experiences – so we provide resources for long-term change and fulfilment and clear-out any roadblocks along the way:
The ‘programmes’ – or empowering our members and building long-term resilience. Programmes are divided into age appropriate sessions where members have the opportunity to participate in structured peer and professional support. There is a constantly refreshing choice of co-produced creative, physical, therapeutic and educational workshops and courses. Each activity is designed to create as much change as possible in one or more of our impact areas. And, just to be clear, we don’t do passive ‘childcare’ here; the same meticulous planning goes into programmes for our very littlest members as for everyone else, with plenty of fun too!
The ‘services’ – or removing obstacles to success. Our members have access to a full range of ongoing practical and emotional support outside of the programmes, including a range of talking and complementary therapies, social work services (for concerns around housing, employment etc) and legal advice/casework on more complex matters from a panel of pro bono solicitors. We believe in a collaborative model of working and are in close and routine contact with other professionals and agencies on behalf of our members. Additionally, we reach out to members we haven’t heard from so we can disrupt the vicious feedback loop of depression and isolation. Some members also become peer mentors and work on the programmes or in telephone outreach, transforming their own lived experience of trauma and adversity into a powerful tool for helping our community.
A family approach. A feeling of community or social connectedness can be highly protective when our lives become challenging. While some behaviours would preclude us working with other members of a family, if the unit is sufficiently safe, then it is also the environment where we form some of our strongest relationships. That is why, alongside our focus on members as individuals, we have always worked with whole families together (in whatever form that takes for our members). Family therapy is available to help unstick some of these most formative relationships, meanwhile facilitating maximal coordination in the support we’re providing to individuals within the family unit.
All of our activities, policies and practices are motivated by and understood within a virtuous circle of research and development: our Impact Strategy lays out the theoretical basis for the kinds of change we aim to make in our members’ lives; programme leads then work with members and clinical experts to devise achievable relevant outcomes and plan activities to meet them; we monitor and evaluate all our activities and services using a range of standardised quantitative and qualitative methodologies; and then we feed the results back into our training, policies and working practices, but also into our programme planning, constantly adapting what we do so we can keep members enthused, address new identified needs and contribute to the clinical debate with new empirical information.