Pilates and reflexology kick start Sacred Heart Mission’s holistic care

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Sharon Lee

At Sacred Heart Mission we are perhaps best known for our St Kilda dining hall, which serves hundreds of free meals every day for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. But you may be surprised at how comprehensive and varied our services are. By linking with specialist volunteers from the community we are able to offer a range of services, including complementary health services. This year we have added Pilates and Reflexology to that list.

Building up abdominal core strength is just one of the benefits for clients taking part in Pilates classes through our Kick Start Wellbeing and Activities program, supported by Domain Health, a private physiotherapy and allied health group. Domain Health Physiotherapist Chris Jellis has been running weekly Pilates classes for our clients at the Elwood clinic since February. Up to eight Kick Start participants attend each class, with a dedicated core group and others who come on and off. Chris Jellis says participants have definitely made big gains.

“It’s a really fun kind of social group, so not only do we see the physical benefits, but I think we’re seeing some good social and psychological benefits as well. Being part of a group makes it fun and interesting, and they really look forward to coming each week,” Chris said.

Kick Start Wellbeing and Activities Coordinator, Valerie agrees. “Of course, Pilates gives participants real physical benefits, building up the muscles in their abdominal core, which helps them with back problems and enhances their overall health,” she said.

“Beyond that though, the classes are held out in the mainstream community and participants have to get themselves there. So it is really helping build their independence and develop time management skills, as well as allowing them to participate in something that would otherwise be financially out of their reach,” she said.

A range of other Kick Start activities, such as yoga and computer classes, are run with the support of other organisations. But they are offered on site at Sacred Heart Mission, or under supervision when they are off site. Valerie says the Domain Health classes offer clients something special.

“It’s really important that these Pilates classes allow participants to take part in an everyday activity in a mainstream setting. That’s a real boost for people’s sense of self and mental wellbeing.”

Sacred Heart’s Hands On Health Clinic offers a range of complementary health services including acupuncture and homeopathy. Earlier this year, Reflexologist, Anita Devos from Live at Ease Reflexology started volunteering her services there. As a St Kilda local, it seemed natural to get involved.

“I am practically next door to the Mission and felt drawn to it in a way,” she says. “My first day at the Hands On Health Clinic was really enjoyable, meeting the volunteer Receptionists and my first three clients. I was made to feel welcome by all and felt right at home.”

“Reflexology reduces stress and anxiety, and can really help people manage their ongoing health problems, so it’s great to be able to offer people that option.”

Working with different client groups has enhanced Anita’s professional experience.

“I know that my clients at the clinic have deepened my understanding of what I do and also of my practice,” she said.

Physiotherapist Chris Jellis says volunteering his time and expertise is all about giving back.

“I love the idea of what Sacred Heart does for so many people. We were in a unique position to reach out to Sacred Heart and it has grown from there.”

Sacred Heart Mission is holding the annual Dine with the Champions fundraising dinner for the Kick Start program at 7pm on Thursday 29 October at Encore, St Kilda Sea Baths. 10/18 Jacka Boulevard. Guests will enjoy a delicious dinner, while getting inside stories from some of our most notable sportsmen and women. The event will be hosted by Sports Journalist and Radio Presenter Tiffany Cherry. This year’s dinner aims to raise $75,000 for the Kick Start Program.

Check our website for more information. www.sacredheartmission.org

For tickets, please call 1800 443 278.

Anita Devos, St Kilda Reflexologist, from Live at Ease Reflexology, St Kilda

Anita Devos, St Kilda Reflexologist, from Live at Ease Reflexology, St Kilda

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