Rosemary Pharo, a CNHC registered Aromatherapist, writes about her experience supporting Grenfell Tower residents by providing Aromatherapy...
It is another day in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Another local resident is sitting talking to the Complementary Support Teams UK (CST-UK) therapists. The resident is talking about an inability to sleep, memories of helplessly watching the tower burn, the anxiety, having to be signed off work, the difficulties with accommodation. “Overwhelm” is taking over.
Yet less than an hour later this resident is calm and beginning to have more control over their thoughts. Their body language is calmer. Their breathing has changed.
So what happened? The first step was to offer specific essential oils in a particular order to inhale. Essential oils are already being routinely offered via inhalation in some cancer centres as a way of combatting side effects of treatment and as anti-anxiety measures. Once calmer, the resident could be offered a one-to-one treatment by one of the multi-skilled team. Dignity, choice and respect are key words for local residents.
Mention aromatherapy and most people will probably think of a massage with candles in a pleasantly dark room. However professional aromatherapists are taught to use a wider variety of methods to deliver the benefits.
This is why the survivors and residents of North Kensington who are taking up the services provided by CST-UK’s experienced therapists are finding the aromatherapy offered so helpful.
It doesn't require talking, which can potentially trigger painful memories. It does act directly on the body’s primitive fear response systems, which can loop into an unending nightmare.
Some of the local volunteers who are working tirelessly to support residents have been given standard, pre-made trauma support inhaler sticks. They can now hand out what is a helpful first aid response to residents who are struggling to get through the dark days and nights. The inhalers or ‘sniffy sticks’ are a low cost (£2-3 each) and empowering self-help tool that we would love to be able to get out to even more people.
It was through one of my friends that I got involved with helping people around Grenfell who had been affected. There is so much work to do. Our vision as a group is to offer a multi-disciplinary complementary therapy service with trauma specialists of many kinds working as an integrated team and referring to a wide variety of therapies, depending on what is appropriate to the residents around Grenfell as their needs change. Because the after-effects of the worst peacetime disaster in recent times are not going to go away any time soon. That’s why our wish is to have a dedicated base where local residents can receive therapies they choose any day of the week from a team of experienced professional therapists.