The Oxford Wellbeing Project Virtual Summit
About this time last year, we started work on a project to create a space for wellbeing at the pavilion in Florence Park with Laura Hancock from Ayurveda Corner, and Joe Jennings from Holistic Health. We created a pop up wellbeing space for 2 weeks at the end of August to bring practitioners together, utilise under-used space, and redefine wellbeing by incorporating a wide variety of practitioners, teachers, therapists and local businesses.
The project was hugely successful, creating a space for practitioners, who often work alone, to feel part of a community to find support and share experiences. It also highlighted the need for a project like this to create a space for a wide variety of sessions that evoke wellbeing, facilitate collaboration between existing practitioners and groups, and address the inequality of wellbeing, especially in a city like Oxford. This was just the start…
We were keen to continue the project, however the right physical space for it was elusive, and life and work took over.
Roll on March 2020, and the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Overnight we saw the detrimental effect the lockdown was having on local businesses, and the wellbeing sector was badly hit. Yoga teachers, massage therapists, and in fact anyone that used body work in their practice, could not trade, and due to the type of work, could not easily pivot to providing sessions online. Like many businesses, the vulnerability of their position was laid bare, especially with self employed support in short supply early on.
Laura, who was part of the founding group, was particularly badly affected, with income from yoga teaching and massage wiped out, she then contracted Covid-19 in March. Things looked bleak, but then inspiration struck, and with time on her hands, the space was created to reignite the fire under The Oxford Wellbeing Project. In the full knowledge that creating a physical hub would not be possible in the short term, she started on a plan to create an online hub. Impassioned by her own experiences of Covid-19, the vulnerability of the self employed, and social inequality highlighted by Black Lives Matter, Laura cast her net far and wide to set the wheels in motion to make sure the project would include a diverse range of practitioners, local groups and organisations, so that the project could address big questions, and explore how we could make wellbeing accessible to all. Laura’s determination, tenacity and infectious enthusiasm soon grew our small group, with people from across Oxford volunteering their time to get the project off the ground, and get it to where it is today.
So, on 25th & 26th July, The Oxford Wellbeing Project are hosting a free-to-attend Virtual Wellbeing Summit to kick off the project in 2020. The aim is to facilitate better access to wellbeing for the local Oxford community, both during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected many us emotionally and mentally as well as physically, but also to look beyond the lockdown. The plan is to initially create an online home for the project, with a view to using already available physical space in the city when it is safe to come back together.
Schedule for the weekend
Introduction to the Oxford Wellbeing Project and Summit
Join Suffia Hussain, Laura Hancock and Rosie Jacobs for a brief introduction of the summit, plans for the ongoing project and ways that community can get involved.
10:00 – 11:00 – Fitness with Noe Orozco
Noe’s session will take us through an introduction into what the differences are between movement, physical activity and sport, and then explore the background and unique format of his highly successful lockdown online sessions: “Keep active with coach Noe.” There will be demonstrations, videos of delivery and an opportunity to explore a taster mini session to try the practice yourself!
Noe Orozco Orozco Integral Coaching
Noe has helped hundreds of clients to achieve their objectives with his natural patience, vast experience and genuine desire to get the very best out of the people. He works using a personalized approach, applying tools from Performance, Sport, and Exercise Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Personality Typologies, and for the Technical Coaching from SwimSmooth, ChiRunning, and Alexander Technique approaches among many others.
Tanya is the lead henna artist and owner of The Henna Boutique. She has been practicing her passion for henna for the last 10 years. Her passion stems from the ingredients of henna bringing her close to nature. Each time she mixes the fresh henna paste, it is like a grounding exercise. A connection to nature and the Universe.
Her campaign “Henna Has No Borders” is one which illustrates that henna is for anyone regardless of race, creed or culture. It has also been featured on BBC online. along with this, she has a strong eco ethos where her henna cones are fully biodegradable, and she uses a refillable syringe to apply.
During the session, Tanya will talk about henna as a grounding ritual and the calming properties of henna. She’ll demonstrate a henna design with a syringe and talk about how you can get your henna fix, for your festival feels at home!
11:30 – 12:30 – Nicole Shodunke shares her profound experience as an Empowerment Life Coach and NLP Practitioner
Nicole Jameelah Noel-Shodunke is the co-founder of WOW Space – a women’s group in Blackbird Leys. An advocate for Afuca and AfiUk charites, Community researcher with training and skills in Empowerment Life Coaching, NLP Practitioner.
Nicole Jameelah has worked on the FGM research for Oxfordshire county council and the Oxford University Hospital research department with Dr. Emma Plugge also with Healthwatch and Oxford against cutting charity survey.
During this session, Nicole Jameelah will be sharing her profound and impassioned experience as an Empowerment Life Coach and NLP Practitioner. Much of her work is focused on intervention programs for clients who are at high risk of domestic abuse, homelessness or FGM.
13:00 – 14:00 – Tobias Strummer explores creativity: What it is, what it isn’t and why it is important for our well-being
Tobias Strummer is a German-born multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, composer, sound artist, puppeteer and food grower, resident in Oxford since 2015. Tobias runs community African drumming workshops for well-being in Oxford.
Tobias also works in music education, family learning, language tuition and permaculture. As a musician Tobias currently performs with Papa Nui, African Dance Oxford and Ran Kan Kan and teaches the XR Samba Group in Oxford. Tobias holds a degree in Jazz and Ethnomusicology and is currently completing a Diploma in Applied Permaculture design.
In this interactive presentation Tobias will address some of the widely held misconceptions around creativity. Tobias will explore why it is crucial that we value our many daily creative acts, however small, and that we capitalise on them to better understand our personal creative potential.
14:00 – 15:00 – Sarah Leyla Puello invites you to explore the powerful and restorative practice of Forrest Yoga
Sarah has been a movement practitioner and creative writer since childhood. She holds over 500 hours of Yoga qualifications, a BA in Creative Writing and a DPhil in Urban Literature.
During this hour-long practice, you will be invited to move and breathe using the powerful sequencing and deliberate breath-work known to Forrest Yoga. This practice, known for slower-paced vinyasas and internally-focused cues, cultivates body and emotional awareness in such a way that it creates a powerful opportunity to heal our physical and mental blockages. The class will start with setting an intent, and will then weave pranayama and asana targeting what Sarah likes to call ‘the ailments of modern life’: hips, back, shoulders and core. This practice will leave you feeling more spacious in mind and body; more connected to your truth and to your spirit.
15:00 – 16:00 – Sushila Dhall from Refugee Resource will talk about how the journeys of refugees and asylum seekers
Sushila Dhall has worked for Refugee Resource Counselling and Psychotherapy Service for 16 years, 12 of those as manager of the service, and is now training and giving support and supervision to partner services. She has been a psychotherapist for 25 years, working in the private, public and third sector, with a particular interest in human rights and people who find themselves marginalised.
In this presentation Sushila will talk about how the journeys of refugees and asylum seekers mean they often arrive in the UK with complex PTSD and multiple complex griefs, and how the systems in the UK can worsen these states. Sushila will also explore how acts of compassion and kindness work to support people on such journeys, as well as the role of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Service at Refugee Resource.
16:00 – 17:00 – Emma Westlake explores ‘Where does wellness begin?’
Emma has been practicing Craniosacral Therapy since 2002 and has a degree in physiology from Oxford University. She has a particular interest in pre and perinatal psychology and has completed studies in Integrative Baby Therapy and trainings exploring the experience of birth from the babies’ perspective through Conscious Embodiment Trainings which form a strong part of her work with babies and young children as well as with adults.
She divides her time between practicing Craniosacral Therapy and teaching Taijiquan and Qigong and has been studying meditation and attending Buddhist retreats since 1991 which support her work.
This final session on Saturday the Oxford Wellbeing Summit will be an opportunity for Oxfordshire community members to come together to reflect on and discuss what wellbeing means to us as a community, as well as the barriers to wellbeing.
This session will be interactive and open to everyone. We hope you can join us!
From 5:45pm – 6:15pm, Laura will bring the first day to a close and will be offering a gentle yoga nidra practice to take away with you.
10:00 – 11:00 – Accessible Yoga with Ann Haggar
Ann Haggar Rosewell has worked extensively in the Fitness and Leisure industry and has experience and qualifications in teaching Pilates, Yoga, Les Mills Body Balance Body Flow programs, Exercise to Music and Aqua classes.
She is a Stott Pilates teacher specializing in Matwork and special populations,small equipment and rehab.
Ann is qualified and fully insured with the British Wheel of Yoga and specializes in The Gentle Years Yoga Teachers program which is designed for the over 60’s and people living with chronic conditions.
She is also an Accessible Yoga teacher and an Ambassador for Accessible Yoga having completed her training with Jivana Heyman.
11:00 – 12:00 – Deborah Humphrey from The Wellbeing Story will share her experience as a wellbeing coach to explore how we can all bring a greater sense of wellbeing to our lives
Deborah is an experienced coach and group facilitator, with experience in the health, education and independent sector. Deborah is passionate about people and the challenges they face and has expertise in wellbeing, emotional resilience and supporting individuals and teams to work in a supportive way to achieve their outcomes.
Deborah’s approach is creative and curious, with interventions that stimulate and increase self-awareness. This can be seen in her work with expressive writing and the use of photography to help people identify the heart of the issue. Deborah also uses somatic coaching techniques which help you notice how you react physically to situations that you find challenging.
12:00 – 12:30 – Claire from Open Stage Arts will explore the ‘happy side products’ that have arisen through embracing fun and free creative expression
Claire founded Open Stage Arts when she was struggling with high levels of anxiety and was tasked with finding an activity she could do just for fun, that wasn’t tied to earning money or looking after other people.
When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she started it herself: fun, pressure-free singing and drama classes for adults that DON’T want to put on a show.
In this talk Claire will detail how the sessions came into being and discuss the areas in which students have benefitted from both real-life group classes and through newly created lockdown experiments.
13:00 – 14:00 – Emily Marshall will explore the connection between wellbeing & singing, and lead a participatory session of song to help you find your individual voice
Emily has worked in schools and family centres, residential settings and with people who are homeless. In conjunction to this she has also established singing for health groups with Parkinson’s UK, Age UK and Sound Resource as well as women’s groups and community choirs.
In this session Emily will introduce the work of the Natural Voice Network and explore the connection between community singing and wellbeing. Emily will then lead a participatory session which will encourage everyone to find the joy in their individual voice.
14:00 – 14:30 – Sally Harris will explore what the negativity bias is and how we can use mindfulness practices to help bring balance to our lives
Sally Harris is an accredited Mindfulness teacher who is passionate about helping people to feel healthier, happier and more resilient. Sally completed her Mindfulness teacher training in 2017 with Breathworks specialising in Mindfulness-Based Pain Management and Mindfulness for Stress. She has delivered workshops and courses in a variety of settings, including workplaces, colleges and local charities. Sally has also trained as a Natural Mindfulness Guide and is a listed teacher with the UK Mindfulness Network.
14:30 – 15:30 – Emily Jacob will share how women & girls are socialised to feel shame from the moment they become aware of their bodies
Emily Jacob is the founder of ReConnected Life and UnShamed. A survivor, coach & NLP Master Practitioner, Emily uses her skills, knowledge and experience to help women move past their past.
She is the author of ‘Desperately Hopeful’, and editor of ‘To Report or Not To Report: Survivor Testimony of the (In)Justice System’. Emily has been featured widely in the press, and often speaks for survivors. She has appeared on BBC Breakfast and featured in a series of videos for the Independent. Her story was one of those featured in the BAFTA-nominated Channel 5 documentary RAPED: My Story.
In this session, Emily will share how shame is socially conditioned in women about everything that makes them women – and how to befriend it so that its power is diminished.
15:30 – 16:00 – Suffia Hussain will share her knowledge as a Mentor & Facilitator of Wellbeing Circles to discuss approaches to peaceful parenting
Suffia is passionate about helping women to overcome their emotional roadblocks in order to transform their lives. She holds sacred safe spaces for mothers, teaching tools of peaceful parenting to help them raise fulfilled, resilient children.
Suffia has worked with the Rapid Action Lab in collaboration with the Oxford Hub and Oxford City Council to to develop quality and long-term sustainable prototypes to reduce the social mobility gap between young children.
In this session, Suffia will explore how we can parent from a place of peace.
16:00 – 17:00 – Dianne Regisford shares the EVOKE Sanctuary – an immersive journey where we explore and come closer to our calling as weavers of wellness, Ubuntu and community
Dianne Regisford is a Social Sculpture practitioner, KaHuna Lomi Lomi energy healer, author, poet, and creator of Evoking Belonging.
A multi-sensory, contemporary artiste, Dianne is invested in artistic enquiry, which creates spaces for imaginative, cultural and poetic acts of encounter. Her transdisciplinary practice is inspired by cultural and indigenous knowledge systems of Africa and her diaspora. Dianne’s works churn the soul soil of heritage, mythology and spirituality, excavating narratives as pathways to social renewal.
Currently finalising her doctorate in Social Sculpture, Dianne’s research practice entitled: Evoking Belonging, evokes the African Bantu philosophy of Ubuntu (humanity) to explore the socio-cultural fabric of African-Caribbean diaspora narratives, (re)constructed identities and sense of belonging.
17:00 – 18.30 – Summit workgroup & summit close – with a final chance to discuss ‘What wellbeing means to you’ & share your thoughts from the weekend
This final session of the Oxford Wellbeing Summit will be an opportunity for Oxfordshire community members to come together to reflect on and discuss what wellbeing means to us as a community, as well as the barriers to wellbeing.
This session will be interactive and open to everyone. We hope you can join us!
From 5:45pm – 6:15pm, Laura and Rosie will discuss what is next for the Oxford Wellbeing Project and how you can get involved before bringing the summit to a close.
The Oxford Wellbeing Project aims to:
Improve access to wellbeing for all communities
Improve quality and diversity of wellbeing services
Support local practitioners
There are big plans afoot, making sure that everyone can, and feels able to access affordable wellbeing through the project. Whether that’s through more traditional wellbeing practices like yoga and mindfulness, or taking a wider view of wellbeing through cross cultural sensitivity training and addressing the vulnerability of renters in the city.
The aim is that by coming together the project can reach those that are in need of connection and support, make sure nobody is left behind, and create a stronger, more cohesive community amongst local practitioners and already established support groups.
The project is in the process of setting up as a social enterprise, and welcomes any donations towards the cost of the summit, as well as the creation of our website home. Here’s the link to The Oxford Wellbeing Project GoFundMe page.
This is just the beginning of a project that hopefully can help to make our community stronger and reduce inequality, and we are proud to support it.