It’s an honour to share the wonderful work of Catherine Scudamore and The Shine Project team – a cause that has truly touched our hearts and we are very proud to be a part of.
The word ‘retreat’ is one that we often come across in the spa industry. The type of fundamental retreat that Catherine is offering homeless women is incredibly inspiring – a place of refuge and acceptance, access to workshops and activities, and an environment of positivity and care.
I’ll leave Catherine to tell you more below and look forward to keeping you updated on The Shine Project.
Love and blessings,
Tell us a little about The Shine Project and how it came about?
A friend of mine introduced me to St Mungos, the charity for homeless people, in the summer of 2013. At the time they were trying to raise money to get a women’s initiative off the ground. I went to spend some time in their London and Bristol women’s hostels and realised I wanted to do something to help. Initially I started running workshops using the acronym SHINE (around the core themes of Self Esteem, Happiness, Inspiration, Nutrition, Exercise) in one of the Bristol hostels. I quickly realised that a more experiential approach was needed and decided to develop Shine into a retreat. I felt that the experience of something would be much more powerful than the conceptualisation of it. I enlisted the help of some lovely friends and businesses, including ila, and ran the first retreat in early October 2014.
Tell us a little about the retreat?
I designed the programme with the hope that it would allow the women to experience the benefits of incorporating the SHINE principles into their day-to-day lives. We make it our number one priority that the women feel nurtured and cared for. Our approach is non judgemental and non prescriptive, and we just enjoy the experience of being together in lovely surroundings with plenty to do. Each day starts with yoga and exercise before sitting down to breakfast. The day is then filled with practical sessions where the participants learn new skills. Being engaged in creative workshops is key to allowing the women to explore different aspects in themselves. The ability to create something can be extremely empowering. The activities on offer include pottery, decoupage and furniture painting. We also try to incorporate a session on some practical aspect of looking after yourself, the workshop on colour and style was especially fun. The days end with a meal followed by a movie.
What type of results are you hoping to achieve?
Our main objective is to give women in need a break, a proper opportunity to switch off and focus on themselves in an environment that offers respite from their normal everyday lives. I really believe that a positive experience, and the feelings that generates, can be revisited again and again – the cumulative effect of this is profound. All the women have reported increased levels of self worth, motivation, happiness and health. It is my dearest wish that the experience helps them to stay focused on positive ways to help themselves and each other.
How was ila able to help?
ila has helped by providing gorgeous goodie bags for the women. I cannot describe to you the joy on the faces of our first participants when they were given a bag of products. The women were just delighted with their treats, and throughout the retreat they talked about what they had tried and enjoyed. ila also supplied us with their wonderful candles and these scented all the communal areas that we used. During the workshops we even used the ila Spa music and if it wasn’t on when the ladies started working on their projects they always asked for it! Thank you to everyone at ila for this generosity.
What future plans are there for The Shine Project and do you plan to run more retreats?
I am in the process of setting The Shine Project up as a registered charity. We plan to run 2 to 3 retreats in 2015 for women in need and more if we are able to. I am also in the process of setting up shine.community: an online forum for the women to chat and access information related to the SHINE principles.
What can friends of ila do to help?
So much! Ideas for workshops, volunteers to help run retreats, small gifts for the women, publicity, fundraising… All would be hugely appreciated (email@example.com)