Body and Soul Pandemic Impact Report 2021

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Body & Soul is an innovative, award-winning UK charity based in London. We use a communitybased and trauma engaged approach to address the life-threatening effects of childhood adversity and the ongoing effects of trauma. We hope through sharing our words and illustrations we are able to convey the journey the Body & Soul community has experienced through this pandemic. It has been a time where the understanding of the power of community has never been clearer. We have been deeply touched by how members, volunteers, staff and partners have leant into the crisis and shown up with passion, willingness and energy. The pandemic required an emergency response and on the 17th March 2020, face-to-face programmes were paused immediately. Within a matter of days the entire team were equipped and ready to work from home. Programmes of support were moved online, therapeutic work was uninterrupted and new services developed within weeks. This was a time like no other time in our history, a time to galvanise our understanding of pandemics, of trauma, of equity and collective healing.

For many at Body & Soul, who have historically been marginalised structurally and philosophically, Covid-19 further exacerbated these inequalities. The pandemic has supported the narrative that the most impacted communities are those who were not just physically vulnerable, but those who had an increased incidence of chronic physical and mental health conditions, poverty and uncertain immigration status. As we move forward in 2021, Body & Soul stands resolute in the commitment to the greater call for radical love and kindness in a wholehearted way. We cannot tinker with a callous and soulless system anymore; we need an embodied change individually and collectively.

Emma Colyer MBE Director of Body & Soul

Body & Soul registered the potentially enormous impact of Covid-19 in the UK and recognised our unique contribution in this arena. Our 24-years’ experience with HIV, BIPOC communities, ACEs and structural inequality led us to expect that, for anyone working on the frontline of this illness, the experience would be grinding, rather than instantaneous and exhausting, rather than immediately overwhelming. We could see that the pandemic was going to have a catastrophic impact on the mental health of many people working in frontline health and care environments and we felt a strong moral duty to help mitigate this impending disaster.

2,926 Individual therapy sessions delivered

By the final week of March 2020, we had: Recruited over 100 volunteer therapists, each fully-qualified and with long experience of trauma work. Successfully sought endorsement for the project from the NHS, BMA and RCN. Contacted 100s of care homes and hospitals up and down the country to make sure frontline workers knew our support was available. Designed ‘BRAVE Families’ - an online platform providing fun, therapeutic activities for whole families, to enhance resilience in the home for 100s of stressed and isolated children, parents and carers.


Individuals supported through 1-1 and group support


Of frontline workers accessing individual therapy identified as BIPOC

I’m a student nurse working in a big teaching hospital taking the full force of COVID. My world was in turmoil, my mother died, I didn't have the energy to grieve..and then the murder of George Floyd brought up so much for me and many memories of how I had been treated. It was a whirlwind of emotions and all the time you’re expected to be there, ready for your next shift. My therapist at BRAVE gave me time to breathe. I just needed some help to process everything and begin to focus on the next step. To find that felt so lucky, as so many of my colleagues are too nervous to get help with their mental health. It’s like there isn’t a good time, there’s too much to do or that people will think you’re losing it. I was worried I was too, but right now I’m taking every day at a time”.

Within the first few days of lockdown, it was clear many members needed immediate practical support. Covid-19 exposed the health and social inequalities that are present within Body & Soul every day: poverty, destitution, managing multiple physical and mental health challenges, living in a hostile environment whilst often isolated. The Casework team expanded immediately to launch 'Care Couriers', an emergency delivery service supported by volunteers, alongside the ongoing work to advocate for members urgent practical needs such as housing, benefits, immigration, destitution, debt, and poverty.


Members have been supported through the casework team


Missions of deliveries to families isolated without food, medicines, basic supplies.

I am so grateful for the food parcel delivery yesterday evening. I am really struggling. We have all had Covid and I feel overwhelmed. And then on top of this you have got me a washing machine... you have brought me peace.

I can’t quite believe it, to have a safe place to live after the death of my uncle when life had been feeling so hopeless. The idea of having to return to the place where I had been sexually abused was leaving me suicidal. I am so grateful and thankful to Body & Soul for securing me my home.


Care Courier volunteers have been on their bicycles, in their cars, on foot delivering medication, food, topping up utilities


of members felt they had a clearer understanding of their rights and next steps to take with support from the casework team

MSUA - Ethiopia

Providing solidarity, support and advocacy for thousands of people who have used mental health services across Ethiopia.

Burans (India)

Project Ember

Providing frontline mental health support in Uttarakhand, to a population of 10 million.

In partnership with SHM Foundation, Body & Soul provided remote group and 1:1 support for key staff in six small community-led organisations, each working on the ground in some very challenging and impoverished environments around the world. The objective was to enhance individual and organisational resilience, especially in the face of the extraordinary added pressure of Covid.

Punto de Encuentro (Argentina) Supporting victims of genderbased violence with therapeutic skills workshops to achieve financial independence.

Below is a snapshot of key outcomes: On individual mental health, all organisations spoke about improvements in personal wellbeing. Participants began to see connections between some of their stultifying anxieties and the trauma they experienced in the past with a dramatic positive impact on their confidence.

On organisational resilience, everyone spoke about the positive practical effects of changes in working practices or through understanding their colleagues better. One team talked about how they came to recognise the constraining influence of hierarchy within their team, and the ways in which their groups have disrupted that, with a growth in trust and in team cohesion.

On a community level, one team described how the boundaries they have experienced in the group sessions have led to an increased ability to delegate and work collaboratively. They went on to report how this has also enhanced the quality of the attention they provide for each of the individuals they work with.

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CBMHP (Afghanistan)

Working with families and community leaders to reduce stigma associated with poor mental health.

HCCP (Zimbabwe)

Providing psychological support for expectant mothers led by family therapists. The hope is to interrupt poor mental health and the high rates of infant mortality.

Buena Semilla (Guatemala)

Dedicated to nurturing the health, wellbeing and selfdetermination of Indigenous and other marginalised populations of Guatemala.

A few highlights across the ages of the community Throughout Body & Soul’s history there has been a consistent commitment to an intentional community. Whatever adversity has brought someone to the organisation, we know the long term effects are almost always isolating and that this is one of the greatest barriers to healing, recovery and growth.

“Recovery can take place only within the context of relationships. It cannot occur in isolation.” - Judith Herman We provide a vibrant programme of group therapeutic activities, tailored specifically to each age group we work with. We lead short courses on the neurobiology of trauma, workshops on applying for benefits, reflective spaces around grief, creative projects using poetry, art or music to explore difficult experiences and trauma-informed physical activities like dance and yoga. All our facilitators adapted at speed to the new online delivery and found new and really exciting ways of working - that let us connect with more people, more easily, and really leant into the functionality of Zoom.

Adventurers’ TV To stay connected with the children, Adventurers’ TV was launched! Children were able to access via zoom workshops exploring prevalent themes of lockdown. There was a focus on building resilience using stories and games as a vehicle to improve, understand and regulate emotions.

Teen Spirit

For any teenager being locked down would be challenging, but for the teenagers at Body & Soul who are navigating earlier trauma and often ongoing traumas, this was especially difficult. There was a focus on delivering emotional regulation skills and creative projects.

Positive Parents’ Place PPP is a dedicated therapeutic space for parents living with HIV. During the last year, 100% of parents reported they felt less isolated as a result of accessing the sessions. One member said, “Parents place keeps me going.. it feels like we are so close as though we are sitting around a big table eating together, sharing our worries.”

Young Adults & Adults Online workshops were quickly implemented for the community. These included body based, mindfulness practices, alongside informational sessions and support in managing stress and anxiety. Over 1960 members engaged in online groups and workshops.

MindSET (“Social and Emotional Training”) is Body & Soul’s innovative and unique response to the challenges faced by young people throughout the Covid 19 pandemic. It was conceived as a simple and immediately accessible digital support for any young person struggling with anxiety, overwhelming emotions and distress.

The programme has been co-created between therapeutic practitioners, creatives and young people who have graduated through Body & Soul’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ programme. An amazing 1,580 hours have been contributed by young people to deliver MindSET.

Rooted in the evidence-based intervention of Dialetical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), MindSET takes scientifically proven skills, and interactive behavioural psychotherapy and combines it with an engaging community of presenters with lived experience.






Weekly attendance

Tool of the week Gives a new weekly approach to help manage emotions.

Get your Mind SET Exercises shared every Monday to get your mind SET!

MindSET on the Move Turns mindfulness concepts into easily digestable skills.

Key outcomes were: Practicality: 90% of participants spoke of the ease to integrate the skills into their daily lives.

Engaging: 100% of participants reported that the engaging, creative delivery was calming.

Disrupting Isolation: 96% of participants spoke of the feeling of not being alone.

MindSET workout Weekly practices to consolidate MindSET tools.

MindH@ck Demonstrating skills in practice in real life scenarios.

Meeting of Minds Providing wellbeing wisdom with special guests through live IG interviews.

Originally 'healing' means 'to make whole'. The therapeutic team at Body & Soul uses a whole person approach rooted in relationship and with a commitment to antiracist practices. The team bring presence, attunement, compassion, curiosity and a belief in a person's own abilities to heal. We have a diverse range of backgrounds and therapeutic modalities – e.g. behavioural approaches like CBT and DBT for people who are feeling highly unstable, focusing on practical skills for managing the here-and-now; integrative approaches, with an emphasis on the past and on selfhood, and on the complex linkages between the two; systemic approaches, especially for working with couples and families, focused on how we are constrained or enabled by our own expectations and the expectations others place on us; and somatic approaches, like yoga or reflexology, which work directly with neurobiology, using gentle touch, movement and breathwork.

“Thank you for the sessions. The therapist has been so wonderful, picking up the pieces of my broken heart. You're lovingly priceless! For you to stand by me when I lost my darling husband. It's incredible. May you continue supporting humanity.”

1:1 therapy: A range of therapeutic spaces

Group therapy: The group therapeutic

are available, including counselling and psychotherapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, EMDR, Creative Arts, AIT, Life Coaching and Nutritional Therapy.

experience is a powerful and soulful journey in community. Approaches can be psychoeducational, behavioral skills based or an open therapeutic space.



Of members accessing 1:1 therapeutic support have had a demonstrable improvement in their mental health as evidenced by improved CORE counselling scores


Reported that they would recommend therapy at Body & Soul to a peer based on their experience

of members completing the 6 month YANA programme have not presented at a crisis service


The Power of Sound er


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Choreographer and director Imogen Knight and NYX Electronic Drone Choir joined the community online to share, move and use our voices to explore the power of vulnerability, imagination, and togetherness. Each week, short WhatsApp recordings were used to create a sonic tapestry of the group’s experiments culminating in the production of a collaborative EP. This will be a lasting record of the way in which we stayed connected in the face of such uncertainty and adversity to create something truly beautiful.


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Lost & Found t

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Our Creative Communities programme ensures that members have access to the healing power of the arts. We unite leading artists in a collaborative process with the community to create ambitious and affirming work. Creativity has provided opportunities for members to feel recognised, witnessed, and validated through this time of profound isolation and disconnect. We have seen that creativity not only offers space for connection and expression, it can ignite change, renewal, and recovery.


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A group of teenage members worked in partnership with The Unicorn Theatre to consider what we have 'Lost & Found' in the face of the pandemic. Theatre maker Debora Mina and a rapper/poet Mohammed Yahya led the group through a creative investigation to look closely at what we value enough to recover and what we’re happy to let go of. By putting members in the driving seat this led to a journey that explored themes of power, injustice and the future world that we would like to see!

Providing a lifeline of support during the pandemic with a relational and attachment informed approach. Beyond Boundaries is a proactive phone support service that aims to reach every member of the Body & Soul community on a regular basis. Unlike other ‘helplines’, Beyond Boundaries is focused on prevention and early intervention, rather than crisis response. We understand that trauma fragments people’s lives and isolation further exacerbates this cycle. A growing force of volunteers, often working remotely across the UK, provide a consistent and relational connection - often the missing ingredients needed to begin moving forwards in life:

Ongoing: It is long-term. Calls can as easily be a conversation about everyday events as much as any challenges that might be surfacing. Human: BB facilitates the building of genuine, human relationships where members know they are ‘held in mind’. Trust: We provide a consistent approach that is central to building trust.

This is such a hard time for anyone with mental health issues. Knowing someone from Body & Soul has me in mind and will reach out even on the days I shut myself away. Thank you, I don’t know what I would have done without you these last months.

15,850 Support calls were made to members of Body & Soul community during the pandemic

Prevention: The service is an ‘early warning system’ for any risk factors that could adversely affect members' wellbeing. Accessibility: Whether through health issues or geographical location, BB enables members equal access to a full package of resources and support.

Beyond Boundaries always know when the right time is to call. You don't know the difference to someone’s life a phone calI makes. Thank you, Bless you Sister.

Sadly it took another murder, this time George Floyd, for the world to pause and begin to open their eyes to the hundreds of years of atrocities that Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have been subjected to. Here at Body & Soul we recognise the continued prevalence of white advantage and the racism that has deep roots in the history of the UK, its colonial past and role in the slave trade. Our practice fervently disrupts the entrenched falsehood that the white body is the supreme standard against which all other bodies are measured and judged.

“White advantage is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provision, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank cheques.” - Peggy McIntosh For Body & Soul, a belief, a policy or a training is not enough. We are committed to an ongoing process across the whole system, building an anti-racist, decolonised model of healing that is embedded in the culture. Culture is a living breathing entity that takes hold through consistency and repetition. Brave spaces speak to us as a way to process the hurt, anger, and bewilderment of oppression. This work is personal, organisational and societal.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” - James Baldwin

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Body & Soul has been a consistent voice in drawing attention to the impact of bereavement and loss on the nation. ‘Shine A Light’ was our community response, giving visibility to the issue and providing a creative way for communities to feel connected. ‘Shine A Light’ became the simple collective act of shining a candle every Saturday evening to show solidarity with families in their grief and loss. In April 2020, Body & Soul recognised that the rising graphs without a similar rise in support for bereaved families was a recipe for complex grief for years to come. So what did Body & Soul know that everyone seemed to be missing? Our 24 years of working with HIV has helped us see the reality of a virus with high mortality rates, affecting vulnerable groups where the natural grieving process is prevented.

We recognised the immediate physical and mental health risks and the potential long-term threat this poses to both our healthcare system and communities’ ability to survive the pandemic. Fortunately, we are not alone in understanding the long-term effects of grief, where the restrictions disconnected the entire population from the support that is so vital at a time of personal loss. Shine A Light involved a broad coalition of frontline organisations, community and online groups numbering into the hundreds of thousands and became a way for thousands to cope with their loss, knowing they are not alone now or in the months and years to come.

Embrace your grief, for there your soul will grow. - Carl Jung

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It is simple, it is time to act to transform trauma with love.


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We hope our words and images have created an energy within you to become involved in Body & Soul. However small or big, be assured that every donation, every hour givenor idea shared , ripples throughout the Body & Soul community and way beyond.

Pa r

It’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of 2021. So much has happened over these last months and we continue to live in uncertain and challenging times. Health and social care systems are at breaking point, while need grows every day. Here at Body & Soul we are passionate in our commitment to reach as many children, teenagers and adults living with the devastating effects of trauma. We know with the right interventions at the right time, everyone can feel peace, a sense of self and build resilience.

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We want to say thank you to the rare individuals, organisations, companies and funders in Body & Soul's life who have shown up with support, spoken with kindness, helped with consistency, understood with care, and loved us generously during these challenging months.

w: e: t: +44(0)20 7923 6880 Find Us: Body & Soul Charity: 99-119 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4RE

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