It is a bright Monday morning and the sun is dazzling in the centre of Leeds. The opulent Victorian buildings on this side of the street stand in the shadow of the Town Hall. I’ve come to visit the Phoenix Health & Wellbeing centre and suddenly see it nestled in between solicitor offices common to this part of town.
This is my first interview as community reporter for South Leeds Life blog and I have been invited to meet Gill Trevor the founder of Phoenix Health & Wellbeing. As I climb the short steps through the grand entrance of Oxford Chambers, I see the door to the right opposite the spiral staircase. I ring the buzzer and am greeted by the friendly smile of Caitlin an apprentice from Leeds College who greets me with Gill and welcomes me into the warm reception area.
The setting is no different than any other health and therapy centre; aromatherapy scents and soft music drift around the room, low lighting and potted plants create a safe and warm environment. Phoenix Health & Wellbeing is a different sort of therapy centre, it is a charity which offers massage and other high quality relaxing or remedial complementary treatments to people who may not otherwise be able to afford the service right in the heart of Leeds.
As well as having a private client list Gill and five other trained consultants work on a referral basis from Adult Social Care, GP’s and other charities. The proceeds from the full paying clients then go towards providing the same treatment at a subsided cost to health service users. Treatments include:
- Body Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- and … Gift Vouchers
Gill says it’s all about the restorative value nurturing touch has. She sees people suffering from anxiety and social isolation build confidence each week they return for further sessions. It’s all about having real contact with the client, it helps make people feel valued and cared for. It is transforming.
“Seeing what positive touch can do makes me realise that it can make a big difference to people.”
She says for a person like me running around all day and then coming in for massage is stress relieving, but for some people it can have an even more positive impact on their lives.
To find out I get the full Phoenix experience. Gill asks me a short health questionnaire and the next thing I know I’m having a back massage! Needless to say that most of the interview is conducted with me face down on a massage bench. Gill’s expert hands find all my problem areas and I feel refreshed and quickly grab a pen and paper to get down all the points we talked about just so I can tense those shoulders up again. Gill spends time demonstrating an exercise that I should do daily to help release the build up from stress in these areas. I definitely feel cared for!
Afterwards, I feel as though I could float into the high ceilings and have a quick look around peeking into all the different therapy rooms. Gill has worked hard to find the right premises and was lucky to find Oxford Place Methodist Church able to help and create the right atmosphere for the wide client base. She says having a centre like this right in the heart of the city makes it accessible to all communities.
Gill’s professional background has been in Marketing and Business Planning. After taking time out to care for her Mother, Gill retrained in Massage, Aromatherapy and Reflexology. It was from this shift that she began to stream her new skills into charity work at St. Gemma’s Hospice and other charities. As well as working on her clients Gill is helping to share the value of touch therapy with carers who look after members of their own family. She explains caring for someone becomes very prescriptive with the daily repetitive duties the human touch is forgotten. By practising basic contact with hands and arms helps regain the trust and make the process more enjoyable for both carer and patient.
The reception is filling up a bit with families and Gill and Caitlin are talking to families and business people. Their approach is caring and open, and they enthuse energy to make everyone feel as welcome and at ease as possible.
So, if you’re looking for a new place to balance your mind and body, or would like to have therapy with a healthy conscience – check these guys out!
Thank you Gill and Caitlin.