How does trauma affect us?  The Genesis Trust exists to provide immediate, practical support for homeless and vulnerable people in need, but also, we are committed to the long-term walk with people impacted by trauma to help them rebuild their lives so that they can live healthily and independently.  So here enters the Life Course and the Life Group!

Sue Fourie, Life Projects Manager, started the Life Course in September 2020, during the pandemic, and 3 courses and 24 attendees later (she is presently in the middle of the 4th) we have seen a tremendous impact.

What is the Life Course?

The Life Course is aimed at supporting people in their recovery from addiction, trauma and poor mental health. It’s an 18-session, 10-week course that is relatable and honest with a lot of depth and understanding to meet people where they are at.  A strong emphasis is placed on the importance of the “mind – body” connection: how our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are and what we do with our physical bodies can impact our mental state.

Some of the topics covered are practical like nutrition, exercise and relaxation, managing time and money and volunteering.  But also emotional: how to manage unhelpful thinking patterns, dealing with stress, anger and grief.  Also, how to maintain healthy relationships by looking at people that are safe and unsafe to be around, communication, assertiveness and boundaries and our own personalities.  Sounds like a course all of us could benefit from!


I asked Sue why she started the course:

“I was looking for a course that was holistic – something that encapsulates the mind, body, spirit and relationships.  I also wanted something that had depth and wasn’t afraid to dig deep.  I wanted a course where people battling with life could come and hopefully learn in a safe space about how to improve their life skills, their mental health, relational skills and how to get more organised.  I believe the material from the Life Course is honest, real, and relatable and, what’s more, its evidence based.”


Sue continued, “As we move into our 4th course, it was very evident that there is a single factor running through each course – a loss of connection with oneself.   The cause is very often due to trauma from early childhood where painful feelings are too much to bear and so one disconnects from those feelings and oneself.  The result is, in later years, you are unable to grow emotionally or spiritually.  A constriction has developed.”

For this reason, Sue enjoys living out every single session of the course represented by the words of Hameed, “Only when compassion is present will people allow themselves to face the truth.”  When people feel unloved, unforgiven, lost, anxious or trying to escape the pain it’s important to remember that love is at the heart of true freedom. To love each other and ourselves is what it’s all about.

Are there some examples of the course’s impact?  Here are a few examples.

  • The team at the Gateway Centre are working long-term with 9 clients who have taken the course and are supporting them through situations like addiction recovery, mental health support, advocacy, budgeting, tenancy support, physical health, relationships and increased well-being.
  • 16 clients from the course are now engaging in some of our Life Skills courses and activities including Art, Music and Nature Therapy, the Walking Group, Faith Group, Drumming and Women Together.
  • 4 others are involved with further addiction treatment.
  • 4 from the course have begun volunteering, 1 now has paid employment and 1 has moved from a hostel to her own home.
  • 2 are attending church regularly.

But don’t just take our word for it.  Here are a few of the client’s comments.

“10 weeks ago, we were 6 strangers sitting in a circle all feeling a bit nervous.  Today we are 6 friends that we never knew we had.”

“It has helped me understand myself and my actions.  I am beginning to understand how I affect others and am taking steps to act more positively.”

But it wouldn’t be a complete review of the year if we did not mention the new Life Group, which has started as a follow-up to the Life Course.

The Life Group was introduced for people to continue their journey after the Life Course.  It became evident that after the 10-week Life Course people were enjoying the twice-weekly meetings, the new friendships, the safe environment and sharing their life in a positive way.  Sue said, “The routine had become set and they didn’t want it to end.”

The Life Group is a 6-week course where any person who has completed the Life Course can attend.  It gives them the opportunity to widen their circle of safe people and positive discussion.  It is a more informal group, but with targeted discussions, stories and themes each week.  It gives more opportunities to share experiences, strengths and hopes and to discuss what we are all about and where the Bible and faith fit into our lives.

If you have read this far, I hope you have come to realise the effectiveness of the Life Course and the Life Group.  Personally, after writing this article it is more evident to me what many of us take for granted – the importance of a positive support network full of compassion and understanding which leads to a well-balanced, emotionally healthy life.   We have all gone through some form of trauma but have hopefully enjoyed the necessary support network to fight our way through it.  And this is what the Genesis Trust team at the Gateway Centre is for many disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the Bath area.