I’m lucky enough to work with some amazing women in Croydon and across London.
It’s what makes my job so great – being able to meet people with big ideas and aspirations and support them as they turn them into a reality.
That’s why today, I wanted to take a moment to shout about my clients’ successes. In particular, I’d like to shine the spotlight on the inspirational Natasha Benjamin, founder of Free Your Mind CIC
I spoke with her back in March for International Women’s Day, and I’m so excited to tell you all about her now – she’s doing some truly fantastic work that the world needs to know about! 📣
All about Natasha and Free Your Mind CIC
Natasha established Free Your Mind back in March 2013: a not-for-profit organisation supporting child victims of domestic abuse, based in Redbridge.
It was the first service of its kind in the UK, working directly with children and young people who have witnessed domestic abuse at home, and supporting them with the impacts this has on their mental health.
It’s also run by people with lived experience, who have a unique understanding of the challenges their service users are up against.
In 2019, Natasha won Lorraine Kelly’s Inspirational Woman of the Year award, and Free Your Mind recently won the title of ‘Best Youth Domestic Abuse Support Service Not for Profit Organisation’ for London.
In our IWD conversation, Natasha told me that she first started sharing her experiences online in 2011, after being unable to find any specific support for child victims of domestic abuse online.
“I started writing a blog talking about my experiences, not because I wanted to do anything with it, but because I wanted to express myself,” she said. “Then people started responding to my blog, saying ‘Finally, someone’s talking about this,’ and ‘We should talk about this more’”
The idea developed from a blog to a support service, and in 2013 Natasha ran a half marathon to raise the money she needed to form Free Your Mind as a company.
As well as sharing information and personal stories through its website and social media channels, Free Your Mind provides a range of support services including cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and mentoring, as well as meditation and mindfulness.
It provides regular sessions for children and young people aged between 6-25, as well as offering these services to adults over that age. And there’s an online chat service that allows children anywhere in the UK to get in touch for support.
The charity saw a huge increase in demand during the pandemic, with referrals going up 900% as lockdowns put extra pressure on families staying at home.
Natasha and her team have continued to work tirelessly throughout, helping hundreds of children to cope with their trauma, and giving them a space where they’re genuinely listened to and understood.
Her next goal is to expand her services, to be able to reach more children who need her help across the UK.
That’s just how Natasha is, though – from the moment I met her, I could tell how much she genuinely cares about her service users, their families and their communities. Her passion for the cause really is contagious, and I’m proud to be working with her on taking her organisation even further.