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History

Mark Fish founded Room to Heal in 2007, after being profoundly affected by his experiences working as a psychotherapist in conflict resolution in Northern Uganda. What he saw planted the seed of Room to Heal.

Witnessing first-hand the devastating effects of conflict, Mark grappled with the enduring question of how people can recover from such traumas. Many approaches in the field focused on the individual but the people he worked with made clear that ‘the injury is to the community’ and he came to understand that facilitating dialogue and healing at this level was the most useful thing he could do.

Having returned to the UK, Mark worked with torture survivors at the Medical Foundation and the Helen Bamber Foundation. He increasingly felt that, as useful as individual psychotherapy can be for torture survivors living in exile, for substantial healing to take place a person needs to find community and a sense of belonging.

Room to Heal began in a garden. It was born out of a wish for five refugees desperate for some green space in which to gather and feel free. A corner of the beautiful Culpeper Community garden was found, where each week, they would sit and talk, eat together and work on the allotment.

Now the community has grown to 80 people, men and women from 30 different countries who find in Room to Heal a family and place of belonging that helps them find security and meaning in life, and navigate the many challenges they face

As well as the holistic programme of psychological and practical support we offer, we still gather in the garden each week to grow and share food around the fire, play music, tell stories and enjoy each other’s company.