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New Charity Launched in East Sussex

A volunteer-led organisation that supports families, parents and children across East Sussex struggling with their mental health has been granted charitable status.

This will allow Eastbourne-based Holding Space to increase its profile amongst all sectors of the local community in a way that will attract interest and reach potential clients who have not heard of Holding Space and how it can help and support them. It will also enable them to increase their fundraising efforts so that it can continue to provide mental health support to more families.

Founder Hansa Raja-Jones said the charitable status would give further credibility to the essential work of Holding Space. “Getting charitable status is a big step forward for us. It is a demanding and complex process that ensures we have proper governance in place and a strong support network.”

The charity is also excited to announce the appointment of its first patron, Josh Babarinde OBE. Josh, who was recently elected as an Eastbourne borough councillor, will help promote Holding Space, make introductions and raise awareness of its work.

Josh said: “It's an honour to be invited to join the Holding Space family as its first Patron, not least because mental health is an issue deeply close to my heart. As Patron, I'm excited to roll up my sleeves to help Holding Space's inspirational mental health initiatives to grow and reach more local families who need and deserve fantastic mental health support."

Hansa set up Holding Space as a result of her own journey caring for a child with mental health difficulties. “We believe that educating, supporting and empowering families is crucial to the mental health of the next generation, along with early intervention and support,” she explained.

“No parent should walk this journey alone and in silence when their child is struggling with mental health. We believe that the voice of the parent/child is paramount,” Hansa said.

The charity recognises that the journey for parents is lonely and often daunting; they search for support and/or counselling and don’t know where to find this. Speaking about your child’s mental health is not easy for fear of being judged, a failure, shame etc. We want to take this burden off families by providing support, information and advice and by connecting families to support one another.

The ethos of Holding Space is to provide a safe, non-judgmental, confidential space for parents and carers to come together; to be supported, to connect, chat and most importantly to know that they are not alone. The voice of the parent is paramount and no parent should walk this journey alone.  They offer a range of support services from walk & talk sessions, online and face-face parent coffee mornings, telephone support, low-cost counselling and yoga.

The charity was founded in September 2019 and works closely with schools, colleges, NHS providers, Children’s centers, local & statutory organization. Holding Space is a volunteer led organization of 30 people made up of local parents with lived experience, carers, qualified therapists and mental health practitioners. We work together with parents and children, to direct and shape Holding Space’s activities and services. We have a Board of Trustees to help with the governance and strategic planning.

Our fundamental aim is to connect marginalized parents and children facing mental health issues with the wider community so that they do not feel alone and isolated; parenting a child with an illness is hard enough but there is an added burden with mental illness. We are helping to end the stigma around mental health and normalize the conversations, by empowering and educating the community so that they can better manage their own mental health and those around them thereby creating a domino affect.

Ultimately our support means that there are fewer families reaching crisis point and approaching the mainstream services which are already overburdened. The access to our support sessions and regular communication with families through email and social media provides practical support to families and can help to prevent a crisis intervention.

The vison of Holding Space is to open a mental health & wellbeing center for families where they can access a range of wellbeing interventions such as counselling, drama, art, yoga, music.

If you need support or would like to get involved further details can be found on our website: