I have never worked in the Caravan but over the many years of supervising and working at CCPE, I want to honour this magnificent achievement of 30 years of service to the community and, in particular, to honour the dedication of those of who have managed and held the project together over the years.
The Caravan is a haven for souls journeying in this world who feel lost and alone, a place to come to ease suffering and find human companionship.
It is a place where students of the heart learn to listen deeply, discover and connect with compassion, acceptance and kindness.
It is an opportunity to learn to be with another and give space for a being together that is open and spacious without judgement.
It is an alchemical vessel of dedication, inspiration and love, for transformation of client and therapist alike.
The clients who visited me in the Caravan had to put up with some pretty dodgy cups of tea. Brought up in a strict Mormon household, it was another of many firsts for me in the Van: I had never made tea or coffee before. Sitting in such close proximity to such a wide range of people over three years was an education like no other.
The memories will always stay with me. Two young men and their dogs who looked out for each other on the streets, a 40-year-old woman who stumbled across the ‘Van having just been diagnosed with cancer, a regular attender who I couldn’t stand and who bored me rigid – how fond I was of him three years down the line. The man with schizophrenia who would talk in poetry and prophetic gibberish that had such beauty, how he wandered off dancing to his own private orchestra.
My time in the ‘Van steadied me and grounded me. I was 24 and impatient, so the quiet (sometimes deserted) Sunday slot was perfect for me. The ‘boring’ times watching pigeons, people and kicking stones around were good for me.
John and Zak’s supervision was wonderful, the other students generous and supportive with their sharing and learning.
I loved that green ‘Van.
I hope the tea improved over time!
The Caravan was my first placement. At first, I was very nervous about it as I was very green behind the ears. I can tell you after my 18 months stint there I was no longer green.
It was the most valuable and wonderful experience. The Caravan is a very special place where everyone is welcome, from the most disenfranchised to the regular working person who is troubled and embarrassed to ask for help yet is in desperate need to talk to someone.
Zak is an inspiration in his tireless dedication to the ‘Van. He was a wonderful and supportive supervisor, with great compassion for the people who came to the ‘Van. He taught me a lot, for which I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Janice was also great and incredibly tolerant with me, especially when I kept getting my hours mixed up.
I was very sad when my 18 months were up. But I learnt so much and for that I am extremely grateful.
In my view, there should be many more places like the ‘Van in London and in other parts of the country.
I would be very happy to be a part of that should it ever come to pass.
A very special thank you. I will always hold it in my heart as a very special place.
I worked in the Caravan from 1998-2000 and was struggling to recall specific memories of my time in the little green ‘Van.
What those Friday afternoon shifts left me with, though, is the ability to sit with a wide range of people and to just be open to whoever showed up when I happened to be there. It seemed so magical to sit waiting for an encounter with a complete stranger that I would otherwise never meet.
This experience early on in my therapeutic training stood me in great stead for my 12 years in primary care, where 800+ people from all different backgrounds have walked through my door. I suppose it fostered in me an unending curiosity about human beings in their uniqueness and in their universality.