NBTA wins Lottery funding to support psychotherapy service

Published: Wednesday, 04 May 2022

THE National Lottery Community Fund has awarded the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) nearly £10,000.

This is to support a pilot low cost Psychotherapy and Mental Health Skills Coaching Service for boat dwellers without a permanent mooring.

HeolenBriceMental Health Awareness Week

The service will launch on 9th May 2022, which is the start of Mental Health Awareness week, with Project Leader, Helen Brice, (pictured) who has lived on a boat without a permanent mooring for 13 years explained why the service is needed:

"Whilst boaters with a nomadic habit of life take to the waterways for a multitude of reasons, for some it is their first step up from homelessness. These members of our community are often psychologically vulnerable and live in relative poverty. Furthermore, Bargee Travellers moor our homes in public spaces on the inland waterways, and thus are vulnerable to public observation and unsolicited comments, many of which are friendly, but a significant number are critical and unpleasant.

"In some areas we are subjected to verbal abuse and criminal attacks on our homes, which increases the stress on people who are not robust psychologically. During the Coronavirus lockdowns it became clear that there was
a need for an accessible psychological service from psychotherapists who also understood boat life."

"Whilst counselling and psychotherapy services are difficult to access for many people, the travelling boater community is particularly penalised by exclusion from registering with a GP due to their No Fixed Address status. This is prejudiced and unlawful, but it occurs frequently. The impact of the virus restrictions, when everyone was encouraged to exercise outside, meant that Bargee Travellers' homes were within inches of the numerous cyclists, joggers and walkers who took to the towpaths, with boat dwellers' anxiety about the risk of contracting the virus completely overlooked."​

BargeesMay22Free or low cost sessions

The Psychotherapy and Mental Health Skills Coaching Service will offer free of charge or low cost individual sessions for boat dwellers without permanent moorings who are still suffering from this negative impact on their mental health.

Helen Brice has formed a directory of mental health practitioners from the boat dwelling and wider travelling communities and will offer low cost short term individual therapy and free skills coaching workshops for conditions including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and re-integration since Covid-19 restrictions; and will be able to help boat dwellers to access longer term health resources.  Images by NBTA.

Tyler Hatwell, psychotherapist, travelling showman and founder of Traveller Pride Explained:

“There are too many groups who are still excluded from accessing mental health support due to practical barriers as well as a lack of cultural understanding, so another service to combat this is vital and timely. Knowing that your background or way of life isn't going to be a stumbling block, that you'll be met as you are without misunderstanding or prejudice, can make all the difference.”