Project Empower Circle
Holding Space: Providing a Safe Space for Mental Health (by Hansa Raja-Jones)
"The ethos of Holding Space is to provide a safe, non-judgemental space for parents to come together; to be supported, to chat, to connect. Most importantly to know that they are not alone." - Hansa Raja-Jones
I founded Holding Space in September 2019 after my own journey with my family. Parenting is hard at the best of times but add to that caring for a child with a mental illness, and the burden is even greater. There still exists a stigma around mental illness and support is limited. As a parent you experience a range of emotions; of failing; of letting your child down; loneliness; fear; not knowing how to help or where to get support from. You try and talk to other people but they just don’t understand.
The ethos of Holding Space is to provide a safe, non-judgemental space for parents to come together; to be supported, to chat, to connect. Most importantly to know that they are not alone.
Who is the team behind Holding Space?
Holding Space was founded by Hansa Raja-Jones; a parent with lived experience. Within the organization we have a team of volunteers; some with lived experience themselves. We also have a team of professional counsellors and a Board of Trustees. We are a non-registered charity; voluntary led with an amazing team of volunteers who want to make a difference to families across East Sussex.
We run weekly parent support groups to empower parents to come together and feel supported. We also provide early intervention and therapy through our professional team; we have counsellors, a yoga teacher and art therapists on board.
We work closely and collaboratively with local schools and colleges, statutory organisations such as Children’s services and mental health teams. Our approach is one of inclusivity and collaboration; working together we can make a difference and transform the mental health of the next generation. To date we have helped over 100 families with many of these children receiving counselling through our team.
“I can struggle a bit with the feeling of being alone, like there is no one in the same situation as myself but after finding this group and getting the support and friendship, especially at the moment, they had made me feel I'm not alone, when I start to feel down I use the thought of the next meeting to see me through, thank you”
Journey to Establishing the Organization
The first year of operation has been both rewarding and challenging. We have worked hard to be recognised as a credible organisation; there is no other organisation like ours. Our biggest challenge is securing funding. Whilst we have been fortunate to secure short term funding, we need long term funding to be able to sustain our work and build upon our strong foundations. We are looking for sponsorship and investment!
Vision for the Future of Holding Space and Mental Health
Our vision is to open a mental health & wellbeing centre where we are providing a range of interventions to support families; counselling, art, yoga, drama, music, educational workshops as well as running our parent support group; we want to create safe space for families. With investment and funding, we can empower people to manage their mental health and make a difference to the lives of the next generation.
What Empowers You Today?
What empowers me is knowing we give hope to families every day; seeing the difference we make. My passion is that no parent feels the way I ever did. If we can help one family then we have made a difference to that child’s life.
About the Author:
Hansa Raja-Jones has 20 years’ experience in cancer nursing both at clinical level and strategic level. She also has experience of the charity sector having held the position of Operations Manager at Eastbourne Foodbank. Having spent all her career in the NHS Hansa has always had a passion for helping others and making a difference. She is also the previous trustee and Vice Chair for TAMBA (Twins & Multiple Births Association).
Hansa has 3 children. In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking her dog along the coast, and spending time with family and friends.
You can find Holding Space at https://holdingspace.org.uk/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/eastbourneholdingspace/.