Sara Lee Trust

Sara Lee Trust Sanctuary Days

Inspired by the work of Michael Kearney, Consultant in Palliative Medicine in Dublin; the ancient Greeks and by listening to what patients have told us, we wanted to offer people a chance to step away from the aspect of their cancer treatments that involved being done unto. By deliberately offering people the chance to be in nature to re-connect with the changing patterns of the seasons with itís repeating cycle of life, death and rebirth, we trust nature will offer powerful metaphors and gentle glimpses of hope and give people a sense of healing at many levels. Re-connecting to the rhythm of the season and associated festivals, myths and stories seems to help people slow down, experience the moment and receive the wisdom from within nature and/or simply experience more deeply the rhythm of their own breath.

What are Sanctuary Days?

On these special days, a small group of clients with life-threatening illnesses join two facilitators and two therapists for a day of sanctuary. The days are designed to create and hold a safe space in which attendees may find the freedom for personal reflection, exploration, relaxation and nourishment. There is an opportunity to explore creative expression through a variety of mediums, such as paint, clay, creative writing, poetry, visualisation, gentle body movement and Tai Chi. Therapies such as reflexology and aromatherapy are also offered during the day. In December, for the first time, we held a Sanctuary Day in Herstmonceux at the beautiful smallholding of supporter, Heather Harper. Attendees were able to enjoy the stunning grounds and lovely farm animals (including llamas!), as well as complementary therapy treatments and a nutritious lunch.

In the words of two attendees:

ďMy first day was very different. I didnít know what to expect, and it certainly was not that I would spend the day crying. At first I blamed it on the conversation. Other visitors talked freely of their illnesses and I found this very difficult. I told myself that, in spite of the friendly atmosphere and kindness I was shown, I wouldnít come again. But at home, when I had the time to reflect, I realised that the day [...] had provided me with the first opportunity to let go of emotions that I had held in check for so long. I was with people who understood and who didnít expect me to be brave all the time. They understood the cathartic nature of tears. I have returned now so many times and am always restored by the time I spend there.Ē

ďI just wanted to thank you all so much for my wonderful day. Relaxation, then aromatherapy and sharing my sadness and laughter and the refreshments and lovely lunch. I loved the Tai Chi in the garden, and thank you to the volunteer drivers. [...] I feel so good now and a new strength to move on.Ē

To find out more please contact Lead Therapist, Kerry Evans on 01424 456608

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