It’s 545am and I’m being kicked from the insited (the joys of pregnancy!) what better time to update you about our charity work we have so many new fixtures for the new term!
Quick reminder: every 50 paying clients who visit the studio we’ve made a quota every quota we teach a charity or person for free. Studio teachers teach at least one a week, badge holders across the UK at least 4 a year.
This is a homeless project in London. It is run by the most efficient person I have come across in the charity sector! Subsequently a huge number of people get high quality care through their project. This is our 3rd year working with them and this year we are providing about 10 yoga drop in sessions across the 4 months they run. They are interlacing it with a wellness Tuesday thing where other holistic therapies come in too. Our stalwart badge holder Gabi is teaching the classes and as always she jumped at the chance.
This is a facility for homeless people in Oxford ran by Oxford Pathways. We have taught in Oxford for people without homes before. But after maternity leave my work with the Porch fell through (annoyingly for a practical reason like the room we used being filled with furnature.) An attempt at doing referral classes for the Big issue vendors too hasn’t taken off so we’re back! Our new teacher Bertie who is very experienced and Sarah who used to teach at Yoga Venue are taking our new weekly class on alternate weeks. We have some inductions to do and the exact time to bottom out but other than these small logistical steps we’re all set!
Lewisham SUIT people recovering from addictions.
Yoga is a useful tool if your recovering from an addiction. At Lewisham local council they have a service users involvement team who are organising a group of recovering addicts for James Lander our badge holder to teach on a weekly bases. They have a wellness taster day on Monday to get people keen on this class and I sent in a video for it because none of us could get there in person. Here is is- it’s worth a laugh at my reluctant assistant slash husband! Oh to be married to a charitable yoga teacher!
Maggie’s Cancer Centre
This is a national charity which provides holistic support for cancer patients. In Oxford it is the most gorgeous facility opposite the JR. I approached them a couple of years ago to provide yoga for them, but a badge holder Rebecca Varey got there before us!! She is really charitable and I'm proud to have her as a badge holder.
She provides weekly yoga at the centre but as the demand is so high people can only do a 6 week course. So at the time I offered referral classes for the graduates of the course. Patients have been asking for a specific class though because their needs are so specific so now I'm getting Rebecca into the studio every week to provide this. There are lots of studies about breast cancer and yoga helping recovery I'll ask Harriet to link them in a blog soon.
In a city of stressed out high achievers (Cambridge is a bit like that too) there is a high proportion of body negativity. And even eating disorders. So I wanted to run a gentle class about self love and NOT about exercise for a long while. Obviously, providing a class takes a lot of sensitivity and risk assessment because it is easy for someone recovering from an eating disorder to become competitive about exercise. But this class works equally well for obesity too. So after advice from B-Eat and the Oxford Universities research group into eating disorders I'm offering this weekly class. Sarah Durr is taking it and people can come for free on a referral from their GP or from wings counselling if they are in the recovery stage and those experts deem it appropriate. So if you feel that a class about body positivity could work for you go to your gp to get the medical go ahead and fill in the referral form with your gps email address so I can check. Www.yogaquota.com/referral-application-form
So people often mix this up with refugees and although I don't think the groups are mutually exclusive our work with a women's refuge in Oxford is for women who are escaping from domestic abuse and violence. They're obviously fresh out of a harrowing experience, pitched into an alien city, out of contact with everyone they know and their kids don't have a school yet. Everything is up in the air. So hour of yoga a week gives them some me time. Nadine is taking this class from Sarah Durr. We are going to a different house now with some new people in there who were asking for yoga and Sarah couldn't make the new location. Nadine is actually running an hour and a half there weekly so there is enough time to give everyone a class (two 45 min sessions) we had so much demand. I'm really really passionate about women's rights and domestic abuse so this class is one of my favourites.
Building Better Opportunities project with Activate learning
Sometimes I'm cold calling charities and groups to "sell" free yoga to them. Increasingly not though! Which is fab. Maria who runs this project called me up, I always find when the group is nagging me for more yoga then we're onto a good thing! This project is for people in Oxford who are long term unemployed and now they have a weekly yoga session to come to which we are focussing on building confidence and giving a regular fixture in an otherwise fluid schedule. Venetia is taking this class moving on from Autism Family Support. We are stoked to provide yoga for this group because work stress (job search stress) financial stress can be the worst sort of stress and yoga as you know is a lovely tool to combat stress.
This is a small but highly organised group which provides Sanity and various services for students with mental health issues. I met them when giving a yoga class in a field by some allotments for a festival which looked like it would become a crazy rave by the end of the night when me and SANE were safely out the way! We chatted and got inspired over doing yoga for the students. Harriet has been taking classes for them fortnightly. She's so reliable I can just give her a task and boom! things are sorted! Anyway due to demand we are increasing this to every week.
Student Minds also has a weekly slot but their volunteers are changing over and it's not fixed yet so I don't want to jinx it. But Ada one of our regulars and now teachers is going to run a class in London for her local branch too!
Autism Family Support
Ah the loveliest group ever! This class has been running for donkeys years (well, relatively, within Yoga Quota's life span!) Its for people on the spectrum 14 years old and up (although I do take younger if appropriate) and for their family member or carer. I started with them and got some really crazy positive experiences every time. One person I taught, I was literally the first teacher in a group setting he'd had. This was amazing to see him change and learn about group settings. Now Adam, Isobel and Phil are taking this class. (On a rota clearly not all at once) I'm slightly concerned about alternating teachers because Autistic people like structure in general. But I find our clients who come there are ok with it and in any case we have a large pool of people who don't come every week either so this is a work in progress. We'll see if it works.
Oh Mind! Most of our quotas go to mind in one form or another. Mind provide mental health services they are really famous in the UK so I'm honoured to work for them. In Oxford they provide free counselling too and have brilliant links with GPs. So we have classes at their centres every week in Witney, Abingdon, Carrick and Rochester. These classes are generally chair yoga and are super popular. Eliise our new graduate from Yoga Quotas teacher training is on thee Witney one. Lucy (soon to be Bella and Hannah) Laurence and Ellen the others charitable badge holders who reliable go every single week. But in Oxfordshire we also have the referral scheme with Mind where people apply to practice at our studio for free. Mind refers appropriate people and this scheme is on fire! It's hidden charity work you will not know about each class and it's anonymous I can tell you the overall figures (45 referral classes last month) but obviously I won't be splashing photos and stuff about and singling people out. Needless to say referrals are a great way to give someone yoga for free in a beautiful studio and the community support we enjoy at the studio.
These are a group Venetia is particularly keen on because of family and are for people with brain injuries. She runs some classes on an irregular basis for the group and we are hoping future to send her on a retreat with them.
Oxforward with Kennedy Scott
Another brand new referral charity for mental health. I don't know too much about how this scheme with pan out but I've got high hopes as they focus on mental health and it's another where the demand is being driven by the service users.
I used to go to restore every fortnight. But after maternity leave this one turned into a referral charity too. They provide services for people with mental health challenges particularly a garden to garden in. Which as most people know being outside with nature is a wonderful tool to improve your mental wellbeing. We haven't many referral clients with Restore, well, one. But they are dedicated to yoga and it really works for them! I think their service users and Mind overlap so much and I find that mind clients anew also restore clients. So it doesn't matter which route we go down as long as the people hear about Yoga Quota's referral scheme somehow!
Oxfordshire Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre
So women who have been sexually assaulted or raped can access services with Osarrc. We used to do a special class in the timetable for the group. But as there is a lot of secrecy about being a service user (or shame?) labelling a weekly class is not very helpful. Even when I just reserved slots in the women's vinyasa class. So it's understandable and we went for a more anonymous referral scheme for this group of strong women. The disadvantage is that the classes they go to may well have men in them unless they go to a women's only class but the advantages outweigh this. Last month we did a taster session for the staff too (and were given cupcakes! Thank you!) this helps the staff communicate the value of yoga to their service users first hand.
I LOVE keen. It is a group of highly organised staff and volunteers who run weekly or more sessions of sports for teenagers (and adults I think) with disabilities. Keen is such an apt name for them because everyone is keen. I think this is our third Michaelmas working together and I'm looking forward to a long relationship in future too. Nadine taught the last one and they gave her flowers. This made me realise how amazing Nadine is! Yellow Submarine is a similar charity I'd say for people with learning difficulties specifically and we are beginning to pick up work from them again through Oxford Youth. Although I cancelled the last session as my toddler was vomiting which is not conducive to a good yoga session nor to being their yoga provider of choice so we'll see how this goes. However Keen with an overlap of people we teach yoga to is going strong!
The Prison Phoenix trust
This charity sends yoga teachers to prison. My grandma taught art in prisons (and RA graduate and a very strong women) and although I taught prisoners on rebate I haven't gone into prison. But a few of my badge holders are keen to teach in prisons. Therefore PPT and I have established a kind of partnership where I send them yoga teachers keen for Prison work and they send me yoga teachers too. They find, understandably that it takes a while to set up a yoga class at a prison. It's not like you just saunter in, right? So they often have charitable teachers in excess and I have demand for classes Uk wide from other vulnerable groups. Makes sense! I'm trying to set up a similar thing with Our Mala a yoga charity specifically for refugees groups because although refugee action and I have tried to work together I find the groups hard to get access to.
The Accessible Yoga Trust is another charity we are aligned with and Yoga Quota is now an ambassador for them.
I think this is everyone we have regular fixtures with. There are other logos up on the charity partner site they may be work in progress, less regular or new referral schemes. But we are always searching for more charity work!
We exceed our quotas every month. And this is how I like it. Coming into a new term where our volumes have increased year on yet by an average of 50% keeps me driving ahead for more more more charity classes and regular fixtures so we can continue to exceed our quotas. (Ah targets when set right they are very useful but more on that in my last blog!)
You can help!
If you have contacts in a national charity please let me know!
If you have a local charity contact even if it’s not in Oxford let me know!
If you think I'm missing a vulnerable group who could do with trying yoga then let me know too!
If you're a teacher and not yet a badge holder I need you! Get in touch please!
Now it's 715am my toddlers about to wake up and I'll set out on another day of yoga/mothering/and emailing! Well done for reading this far!