Support Provider spotlight – Mandy Gaze

Mandy is a Support Provider for Future Pathways. Read on to find out about her work with people who were abused in care as children.

“My name is Mandy and I work in the Scottish Borders in Galashiels. I work with Future Pathways in two ways – I offer counselling to people who want that type of support and I also work as a Safeguarder at meetings and workshops.

“Throughout my working life I have always worked with people in helping roles, both in the community and also in the therapeutic and counselling field. My work experience includes working as a team member developing and sustaining Voluntary Sector counselling services and also as a self employed therapist.

“I began training in counselling on part time study at Edinburgh University in my 40’s and it took many years to complete a Masters degree there which, to my family’s delight, after years of me having my head stuck in a book, I finally passed with distinction in 2008.

“By the time I qualified as a counsellor, a small pot of non-recurrent funding through the NHS Sexual Health Strategy became available in the Borders. Penumbra, who I worked for at the time as a Tenancy Support Worker, created a post for me to set up a 10 hour counselling service to meet the needs of people who had survived childhood abuse. As this post and funding came to an end 18 months later (due to lack of funding) I applied for work with what was then a newly launched service for people who had specifically experienced abuse whilst in care and was employed by Open Secret 2009 -2014 to work as a development worker in the Borders whilst still based within Penumbra.

“This service included not only a counselling service for people who had been harmed in care as children, but also advocacy and more general support – folk coming through the door often referred with complex trauma and varying degrees ongoing trauma due to the legacy abuse, which in my experience can leave both incredible resilience as well as devastating impacts. I worked as a freelance counsellor for Health in Mind from 2014-16 working with their CSA service and on the trauma helpline.

“During this phase of my working life I dived headlong into understanding how to work with trauma, training in a few different systems, such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, TRE and more lately QEC. I offer a way of working that integrates what I have learnt – I don’t set out to work in a particular way or get into ‘I’m the expert and I’m gonna fix you mode’. My bottom line is that the person I work with is the expert on themselves and their own lives and I always want to respect that, but I do have some skills and ways of facilitating that can be helpful.

“We know that trauma breaks bonds of trust and that this gets very complicated when it happens in the context of a care setting. The approaches I offer are basically aimed at establishing self-trust, self-worth and self-empowerment – I like to work in a flexible and responsive way that suits the individuals I work with. It is hugely rewarding work which leaves me feeling humbled and very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with Future Pathways and its work.”

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Future Pathways was set up in 2016 to directly address the inequalities people have experienced because of childhood abuse in care. Our aim is to enable people to live happier, healthier, and more independent lives by offering support that is aligned with each person’s aspiration and circumstances. Our role is

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