Denise Berwick, MFHT, looks at using localisation to increase diversity and how to support clients from a low socioeconomic background…

Denise Berwick, MFHT, contributed the words below to our ‘Accessible to all’ feature, published in International Therapist Autumn 2020 (issue 134).

‘I worked as a youth worker and project manager before training as a reflexologist and was given a broad range of equality and diversity training. This training, paired with having worked in a diverse community, helped shape me and increased my understanding of inclusivity. It grounded me in good practice, such as being aware of the language I am using and the language that is being used around me, indirect discrimination, unconscious bias, emphasising the benefits of diversity and offering appropriate support. 

‘When I became a reflexologist in 1997, my aim was to make reflexology inclusive to the community that I lived in. As a reflexologist in rural Gloucestershire, I believe that localisation is a sustainable way for therapists to build business. Working locally strengthens our ability to withstand ups and downs, to contribute to the local economy and to respond to the needs of our communities. 

‘My current client base includes people living with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, men, older people, full-time carers and people struggling with their mental health. I currently only treat one person from the BAME community which reflects the area I live and work in. I find it helpful to use the demographics of my local community as a measure of how diverse my client-base is (this information is available through your local council). 

Supporting clients financially 

‘Years ago, I made connections with local GP surgeries by contacting local health visitors and speaking to them about reflexology and the way I wanted to work. From these conversations it became clear to me that those who might benefit the most from reflexology treatments may struggle to pay for the service. I decided that the best way to ensure I could continue to support these clients was to come to an arrangement, below are just a few of the ways I support my clients financially: 

  • Working collaboratively to decide what they can pay at the time. This also means that when they are in a financial position to be able to pay more, they are often honest enough to do so. 
  • Offering a gift economy where a client can exchange goods or services in return for a treatment. 
  • I provide an agreed number of free treatments to clients who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening health condition. 

‘Overall, I find that there is a financial flow and I have a steady income to meet my needs. How much I charge where there is financial hardship is done case by case, nobody so far has abused this and it helps that I have a steady stream of clients who don’t have difficulty paying. 

‘My vision for the future is to see a richly diverse multicultural industry where practices are regularly reviewed and reacted to where necessary.’

Denise Berwick, MFHT, is a reflexologist, stress management practitioner and natural mindfulness guide based in Gloucestershire. 

2 thoughts on “Denise Berwick, MFHT, looks at using localisation to increase diversity and how to support clients from a low socioeconomic background…

  1. What a lovely way to work. I’ve often thought that people who don’t have the financial means would also benefit from reflexology but wasn’t sure of a way round it. Thank you for sharing 👣 🙌🏻🌟


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