Dr Asha Patel is a qualified clinical psychologist and founder of the multi award winning social enterprise. Before finding Innovating Minds in 2016 she worked in forensic mental health services, and this is where her passion to provide early trauma informed stemmed from. Since 2016, Dr Patel and her team have supported over 120 schools to implement a whole school approach to mental health and she has co-created the Healing Together facilitators programme with childhood trauma expert, Jane Evans. The Healing Together programme enables children impacted by domestic abuse access early trauma informed help by people they trust, and in a space they feel safe. With funding secured by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, children can access the programme nationally by front line practitioners that have undertaken the training.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
In 2016, I met Jacky from WE:ARE and I listened to the difficulties mothers were experiencing. They struggled to get help for their children, and these children were being labelled as naughty and at the risk of exclusion. I just knew that I had to do something, so we created the Healing Together programme. Quite quickly we were not able to meet demand (unfortunate reality) therefore in 2020 we created the facilitators programme to create a sustainable model that enabled all children and families impacted by domestic abuse access help.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
Hearing the amazing feedback from the children that have taken part in the programme. Already the programme has supported so many children and families, and it has made an incredible difference to their education and relationships. I always keep this in the forefront of my mind, because if I can help one more child then that’s another future we are building.
What is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward in your role?
My biggest challenge is ensuring the Healing Together programme is accessible for all. Right now we would love to translate the programme into different languages but we need to find the expertise and funding to do this.
My biggest reward is enabling and empowering front-line practitioners to be able to support our most vulnerable children and families. Lots of practitioners want to help, but don’t know how to. I can provide them with the knowledge, tools and ongoing support to ensure they are able to fulfil their desire to help families. It is a win win!
What are you most proud of so far?
My team and our Healing Together facilitators. Without these individuals my vision would not become a reality. Yes I have put in a lot of hard work but everyday people nationally are delivering the Healing Together programme with children and families, and my team are providing that unconditional support to ensure our facilitators are looked after. Sometimes I cannot believe the journey we are on.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
The hard work and perseverance pays off. Don’t let people drag you down or tell you that you cannot do it. If your gut feeling tells you to take this career path, then find a way.
Dr Asha Patel’s nominator said “Asha has created the Healing Together Facilitators programme, a trauma information programme to help children who are victims of domestic abuse. She has not only developed an innovative programme, that has the child at the very heart of programme but she has strived to obtain funding to offer the training for free and tried ensured that no child is left behind by translating into welsh, adding subtitles and In vision British sign language to the resources.”
Do you know a professional who has gone above and beyond to change the response to domestic abuse and keep survivors and their families safe? Nominate someone for Star of the Month by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line.