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The story behind Sweet Cavanagh
I founded Sweet Cavanagh after my own personal experience with recovery. I was admitted into rehab over three and a half years ago for an eating disorder. It was in treatment that I began making jewellery. Once a week we attended craft sessions that had an amazing therapeutic effect on me. To engage in a creative process, use my hands and practice a mindful activity helped me to grow my self-esteem. At the age of 24 I felt so defeated that the small act of making a bracelet was like a mighty triumph to me, and slowly my confidence began to grow.
After 5 months I returned to London and was confronted with my old life and all its bad behaviour patterns, however I was so determined not to relapse that I started to create a new life in London, a sober and clean life that focused on the new behaviours I’d been taught. I stuck to my food plan, saw a nutritionist, attended 12 step meetings and did everything they told me to. Amazingly I stayed sober with a healthy weight. I am one of the lucky ones. I watched helplessly as friends relapsed around me and I was haunted with the why. The answer is of course that we all have our own paths, and what works for one does not necessarily work for another. However, I couldn’t help but notice how little aftercare there is in London. For many leaving treatment the idea of returning to full time employment is terrifying, and yet so many have no choice but to get straight back in there. Many with eating disorders have been in a horrifying cycle of inpatient care for years; every time they are returned to the world they last a matter of weeks before they relapse because there is no stepping stone between the cocoon of inpatient care and society. A friend of mine was in this very cycle when I asked her to join me and make jewellery a few times a week. Slowly we added another woman and then another. During one of our sessions one of the women pointed out that we had created a social enterprise, once I had this awareness I knew it had to grow. Six months later we had a limited company, a premises, charitable status, affiliations with two treatment centres and a group of five women.
Just like our recoveries, Sweet Cavanagh continues to grow and gain strength, however it is not only those with addictions and eating disorders that suffer from low self esteem and bad body image, and we would like to inspire everyone to judge themselves a little less and love themselves a little more.
I am incredibly proud to say that since we began, we have won two social enterprise awards. The first was the Unltd Start Up Program, and the most recent was the Lloyds Banking Group Social Entrepreneurs Program. We have also won The Comic Relief Give It Up Grant, the Santander Community Plus Grant, and the Roses Charity Grant. We have benefitted so much from these amazing associations, and are ever grateful to all of them for their support and guidance.
Florence Norman, Founder