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Helping those in trauma to smile again

MENTORING: Joan Campbell

IT’S A nightmare we all try to avoid contemplating – how would we cope if we were a victim of a serious crime or worse still, if our child became a murder or suicide statistic?

How do the people we hear about every day in the news bear these burdens and get up to face another day in the wake of such trauma? How do they cope with ‘normal’ life again?

These are questions that often confront two women in Birmingham who have direct experiences of supporting people whose lives have been put on hold in this way.

Joan Campbell is the director of Community Vision West Midlands – a training, mentoring and coaching organisation which supports families and is funded by the West Midlands Police & Crime Commission.

Community Vision recently held a victim support personal development day of ‘mindfulness’ at a Birmingham, which was led by Clancy Williams, of Angels Without Wings, a clinical drama therapist.

Joan, who launched Community Vision three years ago, said: “The day was aimed at those recovering from crime of any nature. When the mind is full we have no room for stillness or peace.

“Anger, fear, frustration, worry, stress and anxiety, along with low self-esteem flood our system – this takes up vital room for natural ‘right thinking’ to take place. When we are able to find time to be still, we give ourselves the chance to think clearly.”

Clancy has a broad range of experience in helping people cope with extreme trauma, giving them the capacity to cope when, as she puts it, an individual’s capacity to cope has been ‘put on pause.’

EXPERIENCE: Clancy Williams

“My aim is to make people feel more comfortable in the paused place they are in and take the fear out of living,” explained Clancy. “They can then find space to take in the therapeutic elements that will help them to believe they can carry on living.

“I sometimes think that many black women, by trying to hard to be strong, have compromised their own mental health – we refuse to give in and stop even when we are on our knees.”

But she also feels that with us all living in a digital age we have become desensitised to trauma and we often find it harder to empathise with others.

Clancy, who is a volunteer at Birmingham’s St Mary’s Hospice, often uses metaphors, poetry and stories such as the traditional African Anansi folk tales.

She added: “We all have coping mechanisms within us, whether it’s drawing on the energy of our ancestors or becoming more involved with nature. The aim of my workshops is to help people find the strength within them when they are at their weakest.”

For details on future personal development days email: or for details on the work of Angels Without Wings contact Clancy at:

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