Our Story so far...
I am Zoe Rivers, Director and Clinical Psychologist at Beyond Barriers. At the end of 2018 I left my role in the NHS after many years working in adult mental health services with complex trauma . It was a hard decision but I left knowing that I, and others had a vision of something different, something progressive and something more accessible than the alternatives on offer.
We came together as a group of likeminded individuals made up of a range of trauma specialists (from psychology, yoga, nutrition and lived experience approaches). These diverse group of practitioners wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet in an NHS setting but we believed we could do something better together. We started as a psychology-led service and over time have developed our understanding of how lived-experience roles, nutritional therapy and yoga can also be combined to support people's journey after adversity and trauma - we believe we can offer a genuinely integrated trauma treatment option for people who would like a broader mind-body approach. And for those who prefer to stick to one type of therapeutic approach, we are committed to all our therapies being trauma-sensitive.
In July 2019 we obtained support and funding from the School for Social Entrepreneurs via the Lloyds Bank Start up scheme and we incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) a few months later. This means we are a not-for-profit social enterprise where any surplus funds are used to offer subsidised trauma treatment and to develop community wellbeing initiatives. Addressing social needs is at the heart of what we do and our commitment to creating social impact drives how we do it.
Whilst our therapeutic services offer support to a range of mental health needs, we specialise in trauma. So it was essential that we could offer clients (and staff) a space that was genuinely therapeutic, trauma-sensitive and secure-base from which to heal and grow. After some searching we finally moved into our first home in Altrincham, Trafford at the end of 2019. We wanted somewhere non-clinical, in the heart of a community to send a destigmatising message about mental health care that was accessible and community-facing.
Since our move into our new premises we have built up our therapeutic services, developed trauma programs and built up community relationships. Our LifeBEAT programme offers free trauma care for Trafford residents, on low income, who have been unable to access suitable therapeutic support via NHS routes. We constantly fundraise for this programme to be offered from to vulnerable residents in our community who need it, and we're hoping to open it up to our 4th cohort in early 2024.
There have been significant challenges for everyone since the start of 2020, but the overwhelming pull for communities to come together to support each other enabled us to develop new relationships, new partnerships, see new areas of need and I believe that Beyond Barriers has a lot to offer in the forthcoming months and years to come.