Hansa Raja-Jones, founder of Holding Space is passionate in her determination to provide a voice for parents and carers of children facing mental health and well being issues.
Why did you set-up Holding Space?
Hansa founded Holding Space in September 2019 after her own journey and experiences as a parent.
She explained: “Parenting is hard enough, but when you are then caring for a child with a mental illness it can become a lonely, frightening place. I wanted to create a safe, non-judgmental space for parents to come together, to be supported, to share and chat. Most importantly, I wanted them to know they are not alone.”
A non-registered charity, Holding Space is volunteer-led, with an amazing team of volunteers, who simply want to make a difference to families across East Sussex. Though having had to adapt because of Covid-19, Holding Space still offers parent support groups, yoga classes, socially distanced walk and talk sessions, and oodles of advice and support.
What do you get out of it?
Hansa said: “I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did. If we can empower people to make it normal to talk about mental health – so they understand that it’s ok to not be ok – then that’s reward itself.”
What do your volunteers get out of it?
Emily, a volunteer counsellor, says she feels honoured to be part of such a special and vital support network, adding: “I have experienced first-hand the challenges that parenting & family relationships can bring. I am aware of the massive strain that any physical, emotional or mental health issue can put on all members of a household. I’ve learnt that struggling with any of this alone is tough and that finding the courage to ask for help and tell someone what you’re going through and not feel judged can bring immense relief. I’m also aware that this kind of support is not easily accessible for families in many communities. When I heard about Holding Space I knew I could offer something of value from my own knowledge and experience as a parent and a counsellor.”
Hansa’s vision is to open a mental health & well being centre where Holding Space can provide a range of interventions to support families; counselling, art, yoga, drama, music and educational workshops – as well as a safe space to meet.
Hansa explained: “With investment and funding, and our army of invaluable volunteers, we can empower people to manage their mental health and make a difference to the lives of the next generation.”
Having been a Macmillan nurse for 20 years and an operations manager at Eastbourne Foodbank for five years before setting up Holding Space, Hansa certainly has a lifetime of experiences to draw on to help make her dream a reality. A huge heart, too.