I was homeless at 16 after years of physical and mental abuse behind closed doors. Despite securing a permanent home at 19, the belief that I was "damaged goods" stayed with me for years which spiralled into a masked darkness filled with failed relationships, cocaine, and alcohol. I’d tried everything on offer to try and ‘fix me’ yet failed time after time as nothing seemed sustainable.
This all changed when I was introduced to a book by Sydney Banks called “The Enlightened Gardener”. Within three hours I was sobbing and felt a wave of relief. Something I read triggered a different feeling deep inside me and I ‘felt’ for the first time that I wasn’t broken, and knew that I would be ok.
I saw at that moment that I could help others by sharing what had transformed my life as well as so many others I had seen through The Modello Housing Project and in HMP Onley with Beyond Recovery, to name a couple. The first 18 months of this journey were tough and there was a lot of resistance which was disheartening yet a gift/sign would always show up to silently encourage me to keep persevering.
Eventually in September 2018 we were able to independently deliver our first course in Watford with the help of Jacqueline Hollows (Beyond Recovery), Liliana Bellini, and Susan Marmot (Facilitators), Quaker Homeless Action (who kindly paid for our hall hire) and Slough Outreach who helped us encourage those on the streets to take part (AND provided refreshments for each session).
This was also our "test" research carried out by Three Principles Research and Consulting, and the results were really encouraging.
Introduction to Watford & Three Rivers Trust
So - picture the scene. There’s a course running in one of your venues where the individuals are sleeping on the streets and in hostels, and they are showing up happier each week.
Bob Jones (CEO of Watford & Three Rivers Trust) was curious about what we were doing so asked for a meeting with me and that’s when our conversations began. For nearly a year Bob held my hand and guided me to a space where we could establish and deliver our services in partnership with W3RT, which took effect in September 2019.
Unfortunately, in March 2020, Covid-19 descended upon us and our courses had to move online which proved difficult for all of our participants to join our weekly online dropping sessions. We patiently waited to see what would unfold.
Coventry University Research Centre & NHS
A lightbulb moment from our onsite researcher led to a meeting with Coventry University. The outcome? We’re independently evaluated by Coventry University, Ethics approved. As such, there is an expectation that the findings will contribute to a long-term impact on the implementation and development of a research-based framework within the mental health arena.
In August 2020 we received funding by the NHS for a pilot programme in Watford working with people who were experiencing poor mental health as a result of homelessness or Covid-19. The outcome? WAS GREAT and we are now endorsed by NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group.
We are of service to those struggling with their mental health in our community who are Unemployed, on Universal Credit, or facing redundancy using The Three Principles approach.
Our services include 24 hours group SPAs, one to one support, and an online support group upon completion of our SPAs - free of charge. (We call them SPAs as our participants tell us that they experience the same feelings after each of our sessions).
Caroline Powell - Founder
From then, my life has changed in ways I never dreamt was possible and I started to share my story. Whilst volunteering with “The London and Slough Run” on a bitterly cold night in 2017, I watched a man walk away from our conversation towards his home on the streets and as he turned around, he smiled and said: “keep spreading the good word”.