I love meeting people who want to make a difference in society, who want to do something to help others and to enable others to do it too. I am also humbled when a person from a different country wants to make a difference in our lovely city. So when I met Ana Guerrero and heard about what she was up to, I was very touched.
Ana, from Spain, has always had an altruistic and empathetic side to her right from when she was a little girl. She has been a massage therapist in York for over 10 years, and is in her final year of studying Chinese Medicine. Her business has grown from strength to strength and for the last couple of years she realised she was in the position ‘give something back’. A busy woman, Ana was, however, finding it hard to find the the time pinpoint how she wanted to go about it.
Last year, she had a light bulb moment and realised she wanted to use her skills to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds and help other therapists and practitioners to do it too.
Ana set up York Community Therapy and Wellbeing Community Interest Company last October, with a vision to make therapy affordable to all. She joined forces with like-minded practitioners throughout the city who also wanted to give back locally too.
With a wide range of therapies available including massage, physiotherapy, fertility, personal training, life coaching and teens wellbeing, their web site directory www.yorkcommunitywellbeing.org has specific members, ‘Helping stars’, who offer reduced rates to people struggling financially. This includes veterans, people on sick leave, people on benefits, single parents, people with learning disabilities and those suffering from depression and anxiety.
They also have members who work directly with local charities offering wellbeing and therapy for specific service users.
Ana’s particular interest is helping the homeless, so she teamed up with the Peasholme Hostel to provide ‘healing for the homeless’. Part funded and partly through volunteering, Ana offers monthly therapy for the residents helping them relieve stress and feel good.
“I realised quickly that many rough sleeping people have sciatica from sleeping on cold, hard surfaces,” Ana told me. “My massage really helps them with that. I love to use my skills to make a difference to disadvantaged people in the city, to make them feel good. Doing it makes me feel good too.”
Ana is proud of the directory and that she has enabled other therapists to give back too.
“I created the directory myself, a local therapist who understands local people’s needs. I am not a faceless global platform, I actually care about my community and those less fortunate in the city. Many of my members feel the same and are grateful to have a platform to offer their services to others.”
Ana’s dream is for York Community Therapy and Wellbeing CIC to grow and grow providing wellbeing for all. The site welcomes new practitioners to subscribe and are really interested to hear from local charities and community organisations who might want to partner a ‘Helping star’ therapist so that they can work together to offer discounted wellbeing for their service users.
Her next projects are working with victims of violence and creating a database to record progress and show the impact of their work.
They are always looking for volunteers and right at this moment are keen to hear from people to work on events, digital marketing, administration and content writing.