After a wet and windy winter the summer has finally arrived. Hooray! For me and Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork (BCMB) – where my practice is based and I work as a member of the college teaching team – this means a fast approaching events and festival season.
BCMB’s Events Team first came together for Bristol Harbour Festival 2013 as part of Happy City, a national project that aims to improve the nation’s happiness. Headed up by me – now also BCMB’s Events Team and Community Outreach Co-ordinator – a group of passionate and highly trained volunteers went down to the waterfront fiesta to help spread happiness through nurturing touch at low cost prices.
On that first outing we weren’t sure how it would go. Most people go to Harbour Festival to admire tall ships, boats and a full, vibrant harbour. Would they be as interested in massage? Well as it turned out, yes. Not only were we fully booked by noon on both days but throughout the course of the weekend we were asked over and over again, “Where can I get this on a regular basis?”
It seemed we had tapped into a genuine need for something. As people experienced their first massage in either a long time or (more often that not) for the first time, they were incredibly moved by it. They became alive to its potential for healing, for allowing them to connect with themselves in a new or forgotten way. They realised they needed some TLC, a rare and precious space where their busy worlds receded and for a short while they could put themselves in someone else’s hands, relinquish responsibility and just ‘be’. It was a real light bulb moment for BCMB. We realised that Bristol was crying out for high quality, low cost massage and we were in the best place to provide it.
BCMB has long been established as an authority on massage training (people come from all over the country to take part in our professional training courses) but at that point the college didn’t have a permanent premises to work from and would hire spaces as and when needed. Harbour Festival 2013 highlighted the potential for a new way of working. Soon afterwards the college took the leap and set up a permanent shop on Pembroke Road in Clifton. For the first time BCMB had a home of its own, a space in which – amongst other things – it could set up weekly, low cost treatment clinics.
Our treatment clinics are mutually beneficial and offer something for everyone. You can help a new student improve their technique by booking a practice session for just £10 an hour or you can pay £20 for a graduate looking to gain more experience. We also offer low cost remedial and sports massage clinics and practitioner clinics. All treatments take place in a communal teaching room separated by screens to ensure your privacy and comfort.
It’s a sad fact that a lot of the time we only start to look after ourselves once discomfort – be it poor sleep, muscular tension, stress, anxiety or whatever – becomes unmanageable. Low cost clinics offer people the opportunity to weave regular, preventative self-care into their lives more readily. Visit the BCMB website for more details on clinic treatments, prices and availability.
I love everything about our low cost clinics and community outreach work. My new Event Team and Community Outreach Co-ordinator role continually reminds of how special massage (in fact anything that promotes overall wellbeing) is, especially when introducing it to people for the first time.
I love working in vibrant settings where people are more willing to shed the norm and try something new. A busy mum might never find the time in her daily life to stop and receive a massage but at a free event or a festival she can walk past with her kids and think, “Perhaps I could give that a try…”
And it’s not just busy mums, or even just massage. As a passionate advocate of accessible wellbeing it’s wonderful to be part of events, festivals and clinics that offer anyone from any walk of life the opportunity to access some kind of self-care. I’m on a mission to bring it to the world!
I used to run free early morning Tai Chi sessions in Queen Square because I wanted the beautiful people of Bristol to start their days in a positive frame of mind, to go about their business feeling calm, connected and confident about where they were at. However you choose to engage with it, your wellbeing is important.
If you’d like to find out more visit the BCMB website, like the BCMB Facebook page (you can also like my own page) or join our Massage Clinics group for the latest on special offers, availability and to book your place. You can also come and see us at Bristol Harbour Festival 2015 on 18 – 19 July, Redfest on 1 August or Picnic in the Park on 6 September.
And for anyone heading to Glastonbury this year, I’ll see you there! Look out for me at the West Holts Stage where I’ll be working backstage with Massage on the Spot, spreading the good massage word once again.