Families have often told the charity how they longed to get away from everything – constant reminders at home, friends trying to help but needing the whole story told again – pressures from work and mundane everyday life such as bills needing to be paid. The world still turns, but our families and victims can’t face it.
But booking a holiday is a stressful thing in itself and requires concentration. And a holiday is not what they need. Overseas travel brings horrid memories – perhaps the last plane trip was to visit the site of death, to bring belongings home, arrange repatriation of a body, to attend legal proceedings. It can take time to face overseas travel again.
The Lucie Blackman Trust’s vision for its Retreat is simply that – a place and time to retreat from the world, time to reflect, to cry, to comfort, to heal. A place where everything needed is already thought of, where support is minutes away, in a location both peaceful and undisturbed. Where they can benefit from as little or as much support as they want.
The charity knows from working with victims and other support charities for over a decade the things that really make a difference to people recovering from trauma. Through discussions with multiple agencies they know that the provision of the Retreat will provide an important step in the recovery process. Therapy itself is hard work – a chance to simply take a break from it all and think is vital.
The Retreat building will be a luxury log cabin, with shower room, small kitchen for self-catering, a lounge with additional sleeping accommodation, and a double / twin bedroom. It will be equipped to the same standard as a high-end hotel. Set in beautiful landscaped surroundings, with natural beauty in abundance, a running stream and mature woods all around, it will be peaceful yet full of wildlife. A whirlpool spa, set in a wooden gazebo, provides further relaxation space.
Retreat users will be invited to send a shopping list in advance of any favourites, while a full basic larder will be provided. They will walk into a kitchen stocked with the foods they love, their preferred brand of tea, everything needed to make comfort the priority. Their daily newspaper can be discretely delivered before they wake.
It will be equipped with a full multimedia set up, providing full satellite channels for entertainment, but with news channels monitored real time and sensitive material pertaining to their experience blocked on request. (This is vital in high profile cases where large scale media coverage can easily re-traumatise and undo any recovery.)
If visitors find they need support all the charity’s services are readily available, and there is someone to talk to 24 hours a day. If they need someone just to listen to them talk of memories or talk over the events, that will be provided. If they decide they need therapeutic support, this will be there when they need it.
Local services signed up to provide support include dance, music, and arts therapies, all of which can be carried out in the retreat setting.
A memorial garden will be created with users invited to create a piece in memory. This will remain in position indefinitely - a lasting memorial they can revisit over time.
The Retreat will feature several environmentally friendly solutions – solar power, wind generators and the harnessing of the natural stream running through the location. Log burning stoves will be fuelled by wood from the trees when pruned and from the site clearance. Users will be invited to contribute to the natural ethos if they wish. Trees planted in memory are an often-favoured memorial.
Based on the beautiful Isle of Wight, families will be able to take a short but relaxing trip across The Solent, often commented upon as being a cathartic experience in itself.