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  • Writer's pictureNeena Rainey

How an Alpaca Retreat Really Can Change Your Life... a Retreat in Doncaster

Alpaca peering through a gap in a bell tent with the beautiful countryside in the background at the alpaca retreat, Doncaster

It’s been nearly a month since my CIC (Community Interest Company) Totem Trilogy delivered our first-ever retreat in Doncaster, for survivors of Domestic Abuse.

I've been reflecting a lot on the project and wanted to share the experience.

Not only mine, as I'm beyond proud to have been part of this project, to be able to reach and support people who might not otherwise be able to access these types of experiences and resources, but also from the point of view of the women who attended.

But before we reflect on the completed project…let us first rewind to six months earlier when this fantastic achievement was nothing more than an embryonic idea…just a ‘shiny thing' far in the distance.

Having received two much smaller grants we had decided that for Totem Trilogy to truly stretch their wings and show the world what we could do we had to go big or go home! We had chosen a group of people close to our hearts and had been very mindful of the impact we knew we could make on such an overlooked but deserving sector of the community.

So, whilst everyone else in the world seemed to be gorging on mince pies and eating too much turkey, my husband and I created a grant application and applied to the National Lottery for funding.

Soft furnishings and luxury bedding inside one of the glamping bell tents at the alpaca retreat, Doncaster

Previous experience running a successful retreat in Doncaster, last year paid for by attendees had given us a sound platform to set our pitch by.

I had invested ten thousand pounds of my own money into last year's event so had a full financial breakdown of the costs.

This said we went into a much deeper and detailed breakdown to allow us to maximise the efficiency of the money we hoped to receive.

That was the easy bit…the tasks truly began when we were fortunate to receive confirmation that the grant had been successful in March.

At least 3 months of preparation went into organising the smooth delivery of the retreat.

Everything from menu plans to matching bedding sets and well-thought-out gift bags.

It was of paramount importance that these ladies felt very special for the three days they were with us.

Upon reflection, all the attention really paid off.

Many of the attendees arrived with horrific tales of trauma and fear.

But the retreat was never intended to focus on those horrors.

Instead, we filled their time with us with joy, laughter and tears…but the kind that heal not hurt.

It was all about inclusion.

Therapist Zara delivering a sound bowl workshop at the alpaca retreat, Doncaster

We filled their bellies.

We filled their hearts.

We filled their minds with new aspirations.

An open acceptance and lack of judgement allowed these ladies just ‘to be’.

To embrace the moment and maybe for the first time in a very long time release and FEEL SAFE.

The positive energy generated on that weekend blew me away.

Far outreaching any expectations or premeditated ideas that I would need to shield or protect. That had been a concern as I personally found the responsibility of caring for such vulnerable people quite overwhelming.

I needn’t have expressed concern.

The women were warriors with the strength of an army and the fierceness of a lioness when it came to protecting their children.

Their courage in turn fed not only me but every therapist that was involved that weekend. The organic growth of these symbiotic partnerships was nothing short of amazing.

How do I feel one month later??

Well to be honest I'm still knacked from the lifting, shifting and packing.

Do I feel proud of the phenomenal support of my family? …without doubt.

Do I feel privileged and humbled by what the emotional growth these ladies have given me and others??…of course.

But the million dollar question would I do it again??…


Our next retreat which is designed for women from all walks of life is in August and there are only 3 spaces remaining.

If you'd like to find out more about it then have a look here:

Luxury bell tent in the middle of idyllic countryside at the alpaca retreat, Doncaster

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