Tuesday 26th June 2024

Recovery Code X supporter on a fundraising mission

The team at Recovery Code X want to say a public thank you to local supporter, Jan Thompson, for donating 50% of the proceeds of sales of her very own handcrafted jewellery and other gifts to us.


Last Saturday, 22nd June, Jan ran a stall at Bromham Baptist Church and raised £35 towards the cost of our next Heart2Heart peer support service for victims and survivors of sexual violence and exploitation.

Photo: Jan at Bromham Baptist Church raising money for Recovery Code X

'I wanted to give back so others can benefit from the courses' - Jan

Jan doesn’t make a penny for herself, as the rest of the proceeds are donated to another good cause. Her health disabilities mean that she can’t work full time and the raw materials are paid for out of her own pocket.


Jan says:


“I am doing this because I found the Chat ‘n’ Chill and Heart2Heart peer support groups so very informative and helpful to me personally. I wanted to give back a little something so others can benefit from the courses as well. Hopefully, there will be many more events I can sell the items at in order to raise more money for Recovery Code X and for the Utange Orphanage charity!”




Tuesday 9th January 2024

OPCC Grant to Fund New Service for Victims of Crime

Recovery Code X is pleased to announce that it has been awarded funding from the Office of the  Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) Bedfordshire to run an online peer support service for female victims of sexual violence and exploitation.

It is envisaged that the February to March 2024 pilot series will determine whether there is a demand for a longer-term service that addresses the needs of victims self-identifying or diagnosed with mild to moderate Complex PTSD.


The new project will contribute to the delivery of the objectives set out in the Police and Crime Plan 2021-24, placing residents and victims at centre of policing priorities.


The money has been made available from the OPCC's Community Safety Fund.

Friday 8th December 2023

Recovery Code X appoints new director - Welcome Amit

The Board at Recovery Code X is pleased to announce the appointment of Amit Shenmar as a director with effect from December 2nd 2023.

The appointment is a progression from Amit's previous role as Training and Project Development Manager within the company.

Accredited Facilitator Trainer and Mentor

Amit is an experienced NHS peer support group facilitator, mentor and trainer. He provides group facilitation and safeguarding skills training for Recovery Code X, drawing on social care roles in the statutory and non-statutory sectors. He brings over ten years experience working in drug and alcohol misuse. Amit is our Safeguarding Lead overseeing the setting and implementation of health and welfare policies.

Client engagement and link working

He is well versed in building recovery in the community through client engagement and building links with external agencies such as educational training providers and CMHTs (Community Mental Health Teams).

His passion for helping others is driven by his own experience of overcoming addiction, the impacts of childhood abuse and trauma. Amit provides pre-diagnostic support for people awaiting an autism diagnosis in the Luton, Bedfordshire, and Milton Keynes area.

Previous mentoring roles have demonstrated his ability to guide probation clients from a life of crime, low aspiration and trauma to full time employment and abstinence. He has a longstanding interest in understanding the social dynamics underpinning dysfunctional behaviour, possessing a BA Hons degree in sociology from Leeds Metropolitan University.


Recovery Code X in the Spotlight

Wednesday 8th November 2023

Bedford’s pioneering centre for Complex PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), Recovery Code X, has been chosen by CVS Beds to feature as a case study in Trustees' Week, beginning 6th November 2023.


Managing Director, Analisa Borneo, spoke to CVS Beds about the organisation’s current top challenges. She said:


‘We urgently need funding to continue our successful monthly Chat ‘n’ Chill series of peer support and psycho-education for women with mild to moderate Complex PTSD. We are committed to continuing this free service for vulnerable low-income women in 2024 to meet demand.’


She added:

‘One of our strengths is to demonstrate that recovery is possible by employing people who have transitioned from chronic symptoms of Complex PTSD to training as a counsellor or therapist and working with clients. Rates of pay need to reflect their knowledge and skillset.’

Above: Analisa Borneo, Founder and Managing Director, Recovery Code X

Photo credit: Mark Deg

When we involve the community in designing a new project, it is often a question of speaking to those who work with vulnerable adults in health and social care. Handing out leaflets in town is a form of outreach, but few members of the public can tell us what our clients actually need in psychological or therapeutic terms – that’s a job for the professionals.’


The social enterprise boasts two registered clinical psychologists, a shamanic counsellor, trauma specialist and NHS-qualified peer facilitator trainer, among others on its team.


Recovery Code X designs and delivers specialist Complex PTSD peer support services with a holistic approach, designed by ‘survivors’ who have recovered and trained as professional therapists, counsellors, psychologists.


Thursday 5th October 2023

Raising awareness of Complex PTSD in South Cambs

Melanie Tomsett, who co-hosts the Chat ‘n’ Chill series with Anna, gave a presentation to Melbourn Business Association in South Cambridgeshire, UK, yesterday, Wednesday October 4th 2023.

Melanie addressed an audience of entrepreneurs about the possible causes of Complex PTSD and how it can be transmitted through families. She gave some helpful indications on how it can be treated and the work of Recovery Code X.


She said: ‘They found it informative. I could see it landing as an awaking in some members of the group.’


Melanie brings her expertise as an experienced shamanic practitioner, teacher, counsellor and homeopath to the development and delivery of courses at Recovery Code X.


Friday 15th September 2023

Recovery Code X appoints new Counselling Psychologist to Clinical Team

Recovery Code X welcomes the appointment of Dr Polina Lukanova, an experienced HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist to the post of Clinical and Psychological Support Advisor effective from 14th September 2023.


Dr Lukanova will provide supervision for the Survivors Hub Project and offer clinical guidance on the development of new services and the day-to-day running of the business. She joins Chartered Counselling Psychologist, Jacqui Finnigan, on the Clinical Team.


Dr Lukanova's passion for this work is informed by her personal experience of trauma and ongoing healing journey. She says:

'I feel that a complex PTSD centre is important due to the prevalence of CPTSD, and due to there not being enough organisations where people can feel safe and supported by others who can relate to their experience.


'When one has CPTSD it is a very isolating experience, which is why peer support is invaluable in normalising and validating the experience. My hope for this role is to aid in Recovery Code X's growth and expansion, as well as aid the wellbeing of the team which is pivotal in making this a successful enterprise.'

She combines the new role with her work as a Counselling Psychologist in a private London-based practice.


Previous positions include Social Therapist at the East London NHS Foundation Trust and various counselling roles at Transport for London, Cruse Bereavement Care, Victim Support and other charities.


Thursday 15th June 2023

Social enterprise announces new director

Bedfordshire’s Centre for Complex PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Recovery Code X, a recently formed social enterprise, has appointed HCPC Registered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Jacqui Finnigan as its clinical director.

Ms Finnigan joined the organisation in August 2022, serving as Clinical Support Advisor, providing professional development, administrative, and supportive supervision to teams running the Survivors Hub peer support groups.


Jacqui will now have a greater involvement in the strategic direction of the organisation, while continuing to ensure the effective and safe delivery of client services to the highest quality and clinical outcomes.

She is well trained in CBT, ACT, DBT, CFT, mindfulness and EMDR. Jacqui specialises in Schema Therapy and is certified as an Advanced Schema Therapist, with the International Society of Schema Therapy. 


She has 16 years’ experience of working with clients with psychological difficulties including complex trauma, anxiety, chronic depression, eating disorders and relationship difficulties.

Trauma specialist who has worked across the NHS

Jacqui has worked across the NHS and private settings in trauma services, specialist eating disorders and staff psychological services. This includes working as a therapist and in senior management positions.

She currently runs a private practice in central London where she offers specialist psychological therapy for clients who present with complex PTSD, eating disorders relationships issues and common mental health difficulties.

Recovery Code X founder and managing director, Analisa Borneo, said:


‘We consider ourselves very fortunate to have Jacqui in this role. We feel confident that her appointment will enhance the stability of the organisation, helping us to grow and develop our systems and services to the highest standards and in the best interests of our clients.’


Wednesday 8th March 2023

Donation will bring back peer support groups

Recovery Code X is delighted to announce that it has received a generous sum from an anonymous donor in support of its charitable work.

The money has been ear-marked to help cover the running costs of a new series of online peer support groups under the Survivors Hub Project.

Further details to be published soon.


Thursday 23rd February 2023

Recovery Code X comes of age – Birth of a social enterprise

Founded by survivors in February 2019
Complex PTSD peer support groups for women who experienced
childhood abuse and/or domestic violence as adults
Public talks and webinars
Self-help resources
Exhibitions and events
Clinical research

Reason to celebrate

Bedford-based Recovery Code X is celebrating the news that it has received a stamp of approval from Companies House and is now incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) Limited by Guarantee. From now on, the former community organisation will be able to trade, as well as bid for grants, provided that profits are invested back into the business.

Founder and Managing Director, Analisa Borneo, said:

'We hope that being a social enterprise will help us attract more support and funding for our projects and programmes aimed at helping improve the lives of people suffering from the long-term psychological effects of domestic abuse and other types of prolonged, repetitive trauma from which there was no escape.'

'We'll be building our team of dedicated professionals and looking for a property that can serve as our centre.'

Director of financial management, Sarah Harris, said:

'We're looking for investors who want to back an innovative mental health centre in Bedford.'

She added: 'When I took over the Treasurer role at Recovery Code X nearly four years ago, I began to notice a big need for specialist services for Complex PTSD. People are frustrated with the NHS.'

A third director is expected to join the board soon.

Recovery Code X has a new Covent Garden-based registered office address, but this is not to be confused with operations, which are still based in and around Bedford.

Thursday 9th February 2023

Meet the Team Coffee Morning in Bedford

Recovery Code X meet-up on Saturday February 25th - Booking essential

Coffee and Connect will be a chance to find out more about our projects and programmes, what’s coming up, and talk to members of the team over a cuppa. Whether you just want to pick up some information about Complex PTSD for a friend or loved one, or have been on your own healing journey and looking to connect with like-minded others, you’d be welcome to join us.
Places are limited, and booking is essential.
Email: admin@recoverycodex.org to reserve your seat.

Survivor-led programmes with a holistic approach

Our peer support groups are aimed at those with mild to moderate Complex PTSD, and looking for a supportive community. More here on our External link opens in new tab or windowGroups page.

Although they have been women-only groups to date, we are looking to create Survivors Hub groups that address men's needs.

The Venue

Green Earth Cafe

13, St Paul's Square


MK40 1SL

Book a space at our table, and choose from one of these slots:

10am to 11am

11am to 12pm

Drinks not included. Please buy your own at the counter.

Email: admin@recoverycodex.org

Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday 23rd November 2022

Special Guest to Attend Chat 'n’ Chill  – 7th December 2022

Recovery Code X looks at ways to continue the Survivors Hub Peer Support Group in 2023, amid calls for an extension.

As this year’s Survivors Hub series of peer support groups draws to a close, Recovery Code X is listening to the feedback and recognises a demand for continuation and growth.
The group has offered a safe space to talk about things that matter – themes which can seem just too prickly or difficult to discuss in normal circumstances. Learning together and sharing experiences has been shown to help people feel supported and less alone.

BRINGING BACK the magic in 2023

Recovery Code X pledges to do everything it can to bring back the magic in 2023 – and the sooner the better.


A big thank you to everyone who joined the group and made it special – a force for good in a turbulent world.


For those who have been on the course, we are hosting a special pre-Christmas Chat 'n' Chill evening on 7th December. We’ll be joined by special guest, Melanie Tomsett, who will be sharing her experience of her own Complex PTSD journey of recovery and supporting the group.



Melanie Tomsett BSc (Hons) who will be co-facilitating the Chat 'n' Chill last Survivors Hub session in 2022

Melanie says: 'I am a shamanic practitioner, teacher and homeopath, and I realised I had CPTSD while undertaking my own journey to heal my life.

'I have been helping others on their journey for many years now, and my own experiences and learning deeply inform and underpin my continuing work to help others regain their personal power, strength and resilience.'

For further information contact: survivorshub@recoverycodex.org

Monday 5th September 2022

New Peer Support Group for Women with Complex PTSD - The Survivors Hub

Register to join our introductory session to find out more

Recovery Code X is launching a new online peer support group for women who developed Complex PTSD as a result of childhood trauma or domestic violence, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Awards for All.

The Survivors Hub seven week project, led by two experienced peer facilitators, aims to provide a relaxed, interactive environment for adult women with mild to moderate symptoms.

INTRODUCTION - September 20th 2022

Meet the facilitators and other members and share your goals and aspirations, experience a holistic approach to symptom management and recovery.

Register online now.

This course is completely FREE.

For further information see our External link opens in new tab or windowGroups page.

Wednesday 27th July 2022

Why is it so difficult to get a Complex PTSD diagnosis?

Community Bubble panel shines a light by ANNA L. BRAGGA

Since Recovery Code X launched in 2019, we’ve come to the realisation that Complex PTSD is a little used term in health centres and consulting rooms. The result is that increasingly, traumatised people are doing their own research online, joining mental health forums and social media groups, to research their symptoms and seek help.
   Complex PTSD, referred to in earlier texts as developmental trauma or hysteria (19th century Europe), is a External link opens in new tab or windowrelatively new diagnosis and a External link opens in new tab or windownormal psychological response in adults and children who have repeatedly experienced traumatic events, such as violence, neglect or abuse.


 Complex PTSD is thought to be more severe if:
·         the traumatic events happened early in life
·         the trauma was caused by a parent or carer
·         the person experienced the trauma for a long time
·         the person was alone during the trauma
·         there's still contact with the person responsible for the trauma

Source: NHS 


COMPLEX PTSD diagnosis - benefits

A diagnosis can help make sense of frightening, overwhelming or confusing thoughts and feelings and make access to support easier. Getting the right diagnosis can lead to referrals to helpful professional treatment. Anecdotal feedback suggests traumatic histories are overlooked, and symptoms such as depression and anxiety medicated rather than explored.

COMMUNITY BUBBLE - Panel explores reality for service users


This month (July 2022), we asked our Community Bubble focus group of mental health workers, clinicians and service users for their thoughts on why it’s so difficult to get a Complex PTSD diagnosis.

Here’s a snapshot of what they said.

Reproduced with kind permission of the panellists.

Severely traumatised people are being let down at the first hurdle, that first meeting with a counsellor or therapist, who simply lack the tools to communicate with them, said panel members.

CBT - one-size-fits-all approach


‘With PTSD on its own, it’s hard enough to find someone who’ll understand what the hell you’re talking about,’ said Carl, who believes he has Complex PTSD, but has been diagnosed with Acute PTSD.


In External link opens in new tab or windowRotherham, 1,400 young girls were abused over a period of 16 years, groomed and exploited by gangs, disbelieved until it was too late and the damage had been done. ‘No one wanted to talk to them about it,’ said Mark.


Young people don’t (on the whole) want to engage with mental health professionals, they don’t want to talk to them, added Carl. ‘If you’ve got them in the [consulting] room for an hour, it might be the one hour of the day that they’re all right. They might not talk. If you’ve got a mental health professional who can’t, and won’t, attempt to communicate with the young person, then that’s another young person that gets lost.’

Underlying the difficulty of getting a Complex PTSD diagnosis is the one-size-fits-all approach to therapy offered by the NHS, chimed our panel. Nearly everyone is offeredExternal link opens in new tab or window Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is focused on the present, whereas the kinds of trauma leading to intrusive thoughts, dissociative disorders, triggers and flashbacks, are rooted in the past, requiring years of investigation and External link opens in new tab or windowpsychodynamic therapy. And this is simply too costly, and inconvenient, said clinical psychologist Rafida Alhagiali. Staff morale is low, impacting service delivery to some of society’s most vulnerable.

SAFEGUARDING LAWS limit the conversation

The requirement of mental health professionals to put safeguarding first, can put a break on the conversation. Most people accustomed to services understand there are consequences of revealing too much information, e.g. your children may be removed, you could get sectioned. They know the therapist or psychiatrist in front of them has a duty to assess whether they might be a danger to themselves or someone else. But the very nature of PTSD and Complex PTSD – especially at the chronic, untreated end, is instability and negative self-talk; patterns of self-harm and exploitation are common.


Professionals need to make a distinction between past and present behaviour, because if they don’t, that’s another barrier to the therapeutic alliance, another reason not to trust them.


The scale of the impact of complex trauma in society, the hidden impact of childhood abuse and neglect, and other prolonged disruptions to healthy psychological development, is only just beginning to come to light. It’s a global issue, requiring a global solution.



Monday 11th July 2022

Survivors Hub Project to restart in 2022

Recovery Code X has been awarded funding from the National Lottery Awards for All to run a new 7-week series of online peer support groups for women diagnosed or identifying with symptoms of Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD).

DOMESTIC ABUSE peer-led support

The Survivors Hub Project is aimed at supporting women who grew up in an atmosphere of domestic abuse/trauma, who may have suffered further victimisation as an adult.

HOLISTIC symptom management

The sessions, led by a clinician and trained peer facilitator, will combine peer support with clinical information and holistic symptom management skills. It is hoped that attendance will reduce anxiety for people on long NHS waiting lists for trauma therapy, who cannot afford private treatment. The series could also help people who have exited a rehabilitation programme and wanting ongoing support.

The sessions will be held on Zoom as Recovery Code X's research shows most women prefer the anonymity, being in the comfort of their own home, not having to travel, and saving on childcare.

The goal is to build a new virtual community that can survive any future restrictions on gatherings, providing a reassuring sense of continuity.

Details of how to register will be posted on the Recovery Code X website soon.


Project Manager, Anna Bragga, said:

‘We’re looking at setting up public talks in faith and community centre settings to help spread the word to BAME groups and help remove cultural barriers, demonstrate that we are open to honour-based faiths. Complex PTSD can touch anyone exposed to domestic violence, and we want to be as inclusive as possible.'

Wednesday 15th June 2022

Spirituality should be included in mental health recovery programs

External link opens in new tab or window

The latest Recovery Code X focus group was asked the question: should spirituality have a role in recovery? Or do we risk looking unscientific and woolly, distracting people from the real work of psychoeducation and processing traumatic experiences? The response was unanimous.

External link opens in new tab or windowWatch the video for a snapshot of the discussion.

SPIRITUALITY IS a fundamental human need

Emma Jaynes, director of the Central Beds-based Adept Living Foundation, spoke candidly about her own previous battles with alcoholism. She said, ‘from an emotional and psychological needs perspective, spirituality is a fundamental human need, essential to coping with life’s stresses. I came back to spirituality via the 12 Steps of the AA. I’ve been through many different phases.’


Spirituality is synonymous with religion to many people, but to our panel it meant a connection to God.


Resilience and well-being coach, Sorrel Pindar, who yesterday (13th June 2022) gave a public talk about ‘finding peace in difficult times’, in the Arcade’s Hippy Wytch Emporium, said: ‘The thing that made the biggest difference to me was understanding that I am God. We are all God. We’re not separate from God. And because we’re all God we have unlimited healing potential.’


BELIEF IN A Higher Power

The belief in a higher power and having an inner spiritual framework can have life-changing consequences, commented another member of the panel. It's about taking responsibility for your recovery. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning.


Vanya Paterson, a qualified counsellor and natural empath training as a Deep Memory Process (DMP) regression therapist, said she wouldn’t have experienced recovery from childhood trauma without spirituality: ‘My connection with God deepened,” she says. 'It’s definitely an inner thing.'


The Community Bubble launched on 16th December 2021 and meets monthly on Zoom to discuss topical issues of concern to service-users and mental health professionals.

Friday 29th April 2022

Recovery is Just Talk

Focus group says NHS monopolises mental health services and is decades behind scientific knowledge

Is recovery from the devastating mental and emotional impact of prolonged trauma possible?
What does ‘recovery’ mean to you?
Our name has the word 'recovery' in it, and we thought it was about time we explored public attitudes and beliefs on the concept, writes ANNA BRAGGA.

We hosted a discussion involving people from different backgrounds with three things in common: they’d all struggled with severe mental health challenges and sought help from the NHS, and all had been Bedfordshire residents.


“I’ll never change, I’ll always be medicated,” announced Carl, who has been diagnosed with acute PTSD. The former drug user said he’d been in recovery for nine years, and managing it was key.


SHARING STORIES, having a voice

The notion of ‘being in recovery’ has its roots in the psychiatric survivor movement of the 1960s around the time of Health Minister, Enoch Powell’s, announcement of the closure of the asylums. People share their stories to highlight their strengths and experiences.


The Recovery Model puts the onus on the person who has experienced the trauma/abuse to take responsibility for their mental health and recovery. The problem for income-strapped survivors is that if you rely solely on NHS services you may find your options are limited.

THE CHEMICAL Imbalance Theory


Jane* had reached middle age with a sense of having lost thirty years of her life locked in the system, forcibly medicated, with a diagnosis that didn’t feel right. She said she’d been told that the definition of mental illness meant you can’t do daily tasks, and recovery to her, was “feeling comfortable where you are.”


The Medical Model still dominates NHS policy, according to our focus group. Emotional and mental distress is treated as a medical issue, based on the notion that you are mentally ill. There’s a chemical imbalance in your brain, and stabilisation with the use of medication – and a course in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) if you are lucky, is the protocol.


Everyone is offered the same thing, said Carl, and when it doesn’t work, they drop out of services. Most people don’t know anything other than the NHS.



Clinicians could help more by looking at the causes of the difficulties, says peer support consultant, Emma Jaynes, of the Adept Living Foundation which runs training programmes for charities. Sometimes, it’s the lifestyle, family or job that caused the trauma. ‘Recovery’ in this case, means moving away from circumstances that don’t suit you. It’s more to do with who you are with.
From the point of view of the survivor, recovery means having access to a range of services and professionals who understand the multi-faceted appearances of Complex PTSD: you can look OK on the outside, neat and trimmed, coherent, but be falling apart on the inside. Or you may be a jobless, homeless, tattoo-ed ex-offender ostracised because you scare people.




The problem is that the bulk of government funding for mental health services is in the NHS, and beneficial therapies like EMDR, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy, are not easy to access. Small, peer-led organisations like Recovery Code X are excluded from funding streams because they don’t conform to the protocol.


The irony is that just a tiny fraction of the NHS’s millions could help fund peer support groups led by clinicians with specialist training in Complex PTSD. It would allow us to hire the services of accredited therapists skilled in a range of holistic techniques that can help alleviate the symptoms of Complex PTSD and aid a journey of recovery. It could help change the meaning of ‘recovery’ to something more than psycho-education about symptoms, CBT and medication for stabilisation.


Just £50K would pay for two 7-week series of male and female peer support groups that could eventually lead to a better quality of life for people who have been labelled untreatable, time-wasters and malingerers because they’re too traumatised to speak. Just joining a group and listening to people like you, can be the start of change, and crucially – hope for a better future.


*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Monday 14th March 2022

Survivors Hub Taster suggests public ready for a new approach to peer support groups

Recovery Code X received confirmation at their Survivors Hub Taster presentation on March 10th that there is room for a new kind of peer support group in Bedford, packaged to suit different stages of recovery, and different needs.

Members of the audience said they appreciated the information, commenting that it was helpful, refreshing, and left them feeling empowered. Some said they felt inspired to join a peer support group.

HUMANISING difficult themes

Discussions took place about the broad range of symptoms associated with Complex PTSD. The speakers answered diverse questions such as: Is PTSD or Complex PTSD worse? And, how do I join a peer support group?


Power point slides lit up a wall at the front of the room in cinematic style, and an atmosphere of quiet concentration formed. Each speaker warmed to their topic, humanising difficult themes, drawing on their own experiences of recovery, both personally and professionally.

 Guest speaker, Amit Shenmar, drugs and alcohol misuse worker

Special guest, Amit Shenmar, a former drugs and alcohol misuse worker who has facilitated countless peer support groups with a well known organisation, commented:


“I can see Recovery Code X offering different packages to suit people exiting treatment programmes. You’ll need an easy referral process and to reassure people of confidentiality.”


Referrals could come from GPs and other local health services. “Making those links is our next priority,” said founder and chair of Recovery Code X, Anna Bragga.

"A series of presentations is planned for 2022 aimed at raising awareness of the organisation, and looking at ways of working together."


'This brilliant meeting summed up the support Recovery Code X has to offer which is not available elsewhere.'

Jane from Bedford

To sign up for further information about upcoming talks and peer support groups email admin@recoverycodex.org.


Tuesday March 1st 2022

Public Talk about Peer Support Groups

There are almost as many types of peer support group as there are illnesses, some have generic mental health labels, but how many are there that work specifically with Complex PTSD?

On Thursday March 10th, a team of mental health workers will provide a short presentation on what you can gain from being in a peer support group for Complex PTSD, and what it can't do, followed by an open discussion with the audience.

PANEL of speakers

Amit Shenmar - Co-ordinator and facilitator, Peer Support Groups

Anna Bragga - Founder, Recovery Code X, peer tutor

Juanita Puddifoot - Professional transpersonal counsellor, international teacher, Recovery Code X

Carl Gregory - Young People's Complex Needs Worker, Peer tutor, Male Trauma Groups

Listen to the speakers talk about their experience of running peer support groups, who is likely to benefit the most, what we mean by 'recovery' and a 'holistic approach'. You'll be able to ask the panel questions, pick up leaflets and relax with a refreshment afterwards.

Open to anyone with interest in this subject: trauma victims, survivors, friends and loved ones of sufferers, researchers, professionals.


Date: March 10th 2022

Time: 6pm – 7pm

Venue: ACCM UK, 3a Woburn Road MK40 1EG

Entry: FREE

Limited number of places.

Book your place by emailing: amit.shenmar@nhs.net or phone 07387 259 843

Thursday 10th February 2022

Happy Anniversary Recovery Code X!

February, the month of love and romance, is also the month that we get to celebrate Recovery Code X’s anniversary of three years of togetherness, helping to mend hearts broken by years of hurt and trauma.
It was 15th February 2019 when a small team of (mainly) survivors with big dreams founded Recovery Code X – Centre for Complex PTSD.

TURNING AN IDEA into reality

We formed this Bedford-based community organisation in order to run face-to-face peer support groups with a holistic approach, and with National Lottery funding started the Survivors Hub in November 2019.


The following year we were successful in being awarded funding from the Bedfordshire Charitable Trust to help cover staff training costs in psycho-dynamic counselling.


We produced a set of practical self-help guides about Complex PTSD now being distributed in GP surgeries, health centres and charities working with abuse survivors. The project was executed with the assistance of the East London NHS Foundation Trust and our own steering group of mental health professionals. We are currently recruiting volunteers to help spread the word on social media.

The Recovery Code X team launching Project Educate 2021 with Bedford Mayor, Dave Hodgson. Photo credit: Mark Deg and Izzy Smart.


Our involvement with the Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College’s peer tutor training programme has broadened our knowledge of workshop styles of delivery and content, and shown us that there is a demand for online groups and their unique advantages. As a result, we are in the process of fundraising for a new series of online single-sex Survivors Hub peer support groups for men and women.


Now, with the right funding and collaborative support, we’re looking to run the Survivors Hub all year, and host public events and talks so that people can find out more about Complex PTSD, the benefits of peer support and what we mean by a ‘holistic approach’. We’ll be looking at refining our products to meet the needs of those in treatment programmes and high functioning adults looking to improve the quality of their lives and discover new paths to recovery. We’ll be developing collaborations with local groups so that we can support each other as best we can through this topsy turvy pandemic environment.

OPENING DOORS to recovery

Recovery is a journey. Our mission is to inspire and empower people who have experienced repetitive, ongoing abuse and trauma to find the keys to unlocking the codes of their own recovery. We aim to provide a safe environment with tools to support them on their journey to wholeness and harmony in mind, body and soul.


Contact us for further information about our Survivors Hub programmes or to be a social media volunteer, or just send us your thoughts and ideas. We’d love to hear from you! Email: admin@recoverycodex.org.


Anna L. Bragga

Founder, Chair

Monday 20th December 2021

Peer Support Groups are so needed and have a place in a treatment plan

- Recovery Code X Community Bubble focus group

A haven for traumatised men - a Complex PTSD peer support group, could become a reality in 2022 if we take heed of the advice received in a pre-Christmas gathering of mental health industry professionals and volunteers, writes ANNA BRAGGA, founder of Recovery Code X.
People with acute conditions are more likely to have a rough time in services and this is why peer support groups are so needed, said one delegate, whose work puts her in touch with consumers complaints.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES don't work with feelings

The problem with services, said another, is that they can’t work with your feelings. You get terrible support in most services. The process is slow as well.  You can’t beat addiction without mental health support. Peer support groups are key. You’ve got to keep attending though.


The ever-shifting pandemic restrictions needn’t get in the way of meeting up with a ‘blended approach’ to group work – where people can join in either online from home, or in person at a venue.


“We’ve seen it work at the Quakers in Bedford,” said Mark, who works with army vets suffering from PTSD. “Sitting in your own room is gateway stuff; you can join in after you’ve seen others in a group.”

PEER SUPPORT GROUPS make you feel less alone

But first there are a few misconceptions about peer support groups that need clearing up. First off, these groups are not about fixing people, you don’t have to talk, you can just listen, and nor are they a substitute for 1-2-1 therapy.


Carl, a peer support worker from Hertfordshire, who spent nine years in recovery, says: “People coming into mental health services are often forced – by a family member, coming out of hospital or prison. People often don’t even know they are suffering when they’ve got an addiction. Lots are anti-groups. I was.”


“When I needed serious help, I did join a group. You don’t have to talk about anything. Attendance is a beautiful thing. You click with the stories and you don’t feel alone. You feel like you’re supporting each other.  Zoom makes it much easier – you can have the camera off.”


Stigma makes it hard to join a group, but the power of being in a group kickstarts recovery



The success of a peer support group is directly linked to the ability of the facilitator to relate to the specific challenges and needs of members of the group. The Community Bubble heard that while a therapist should always be present to explain people’s problems and help them if they feel triggered by material, the peer trained facilitator with lived experience will be able to break down barriers with their own personal narratives and create a non-judgemental sharing space.


Carl says: “My job is to get people into a comfortable enough position to talk. You don’t have to talk though. Trauma shows itself differently in different people. A lot of this is about trust. It’s about who’s running the group, how they facilitate, boundaries and the chance to speak to someone afterwards if you get triggered is important.”


“Groups can work to help people, but they can also damage people if they are not run properly”, commented Jennifer, who works for a Bedford-based consumer health watchdog. “With a therapist present, they will learn something.”


“It’s about educating people as well. Group rules are needed,” said Amit, a peer tutor supervisor with the Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College. “We’re not a substitute for therapy. We’re not dictating anything either.”


If you’re interested in joining a male peer support group with Recovery Code X, please contact External link opens in new tab or windowadmin@recoverycodex.org to register your interest. Further news and updates will appear on our website.

Thursday 11th November 2021

Making a Difference – A Complex PTSD psycho-educative Peer Support Group with Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College


Recovery Code X is developing themes for a new series of psycho-educative workshops in 2022 with the External link opens in new tab or windowBedfordshire and Luton Recovery College following the success of ‘De-mystifying Complex PTSD’ – delivered by founder, Anna Bragga. If there is a particular topic relating to Complex PTSD that you would like to see covered, please contact admin@recoverycodex.org.


The one-and-half to two-hour sessions are totally free and conducted on Zoom with a maximum of 12 participants who have to fill in an online registration form to join. External link opens in new tab or windowClick here to see the current prospectus.

RECOVERY STRATEGIES BY PEER TUTORS with 'lived in' experience

Anyone who lives in Bedfordshire can come along and learn about a subject of interest and receive support from people with shared experiences.

The courses and workshops are focused on recovery strategies and psycho-educative support. Most of the peer tutors have ‘lived-in’ experience of a mental health challenge and experienced personal transformation. Their stories and accumulated knowledge can offer hope to the lost and hopeless, kinship to the lonely and disillusioned. This ethos makes the Recovery College stand out from other NHS services, helping sufferers feel understood, fostering a relaxed, safe environment for sharing.

Anna L. Bragga
 Anna says:

“I was able to draw on the research I’d done for our Project Educate 2021 Complex PTSD self-help factsheets in producing my Power Point presentation. My training in psychodynamic theory and experience of a variety of healing modalities probably helped add more depth.


“The peer tutor training and 1-2-1 supervision provided by the Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College was fantastic. I feel privileged to have been given this opportunity and worked with a highly dedicated team. My supervisor was always at my side guiding me and building up my confidence until I had proven to myself that I could do it.”



‘A very professional, educative and interactive course.

I learned a lot.’

   - T. Kore (Participant)


‘Very sensitive but amazing workshop. Although it triggered some past issues for me, it gave me awareness and tools how to cope and seek further help.’

   - Anon (Participant)


‘Evocative, professionally produced and life-affirming. You combine the creative with the psycho-educative. What you say resonates with people. It’s transformative with a liberatory undertone.’

   - Amit Shenmar, Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College Co-ordinator

Register your interest in joining a new series of workshops about Complex PTSD with Anna and the Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College by emailing admin@recoverycodex.org.

Friday 24th September 2021

Complex PTSD not sufficiently recognised in mental health sector

– ‘an ideological revolution is needed’

The NHS mental health system is going through major changes and Complex PTSD needs to be considered a priority, with easier GP access and more treatment options to help prevent an escalation of symptoms and provide a roadmap to recovery.

These are just some of the views exchanged by a group of representatives from Bedfordshire and Luton’s community of mental health and support professionals who convened at the online launch of Recovery Code X’s new mental health initiative, Project Educate 2021, a package of self-help resources aimed at helping people living with Complex PTSD. (Click here to see the webpage.)

CULTURAL STIGMA still a barrier to seeking help

People entering the mental health system are too often treated like ‘pariahs’ and made to feel as if their problems are their own fault, commented one delegate. ‘This adds to the burden of self-blame and shame so common among people with Complex PTSD.’

There were calls for an ‘ideological revolution’ with emotional intelligence and empathy, a gentle bedside manner, placed at the forefront of professional training.

There’s enough ‘self-stigma’ around mental health as it is, said another delegate. Domestic abuse breeds a lack of self-compassion and self-forgiveness, and physical health problems like ME, fibromyalgia, and HIV - high among African women, create additional layers of shame that don’t necessarily belong to the patient.


in mental health crisis

In some cultures, families shun and ostracise you if you are experiencing a mental health crisis, to ‘save face’, said another delegate.

A representative from ACCM UK (Agency for Culture and Change Management) commented that Bedford Borough has over 100 dialects and some of these communities can’t read English, so Recovery Code X's written self-help guides will be of little use to them. “Verbal communication is the only way,” he said.

The Project Educate 2021 team agree that there’s more work to do, perhaps a whole new properly funded project, to effectively distribute the set of four Complex PTSD factsheets and podcasts to the people of Bedfordshire and Luton and raise awareness of the condition.

As one Recovery Code X volunteer put it: “The walking wounded are everywhere. Any retail outlet is a good place for leaflets, because they’ll have a percentage of very troubled people passing through their doors. And most companies know, it’s cool to care.”

For further information on Project Educate 2021 contact admin@recoverycodex.org

Wednesday 25th August 2021

Recovery Code X launches mental health initiative in bid to create awareness of Complex PTSD and reduce suffering during Covid19

After months of hard work and painstaking research, Bedford based community group, Recovery Code X, is pleased to announce the launch of a new mental health initiative aimed at raising awareness of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD) across the county and providing self-help guidance to sufferers, their friends, family and partners.

Photo (left to right) Sarah Harris, Juanita Puddifoot, Sorrel Pindar, Mayor Dave Hodgson, Anna Bragga

Photography by Mark Deg & Izzy Smart

Project Educate 2021 Stage One, funded by the National Lottery Awards for All, comprises four colourful A4 double-sided self-help factsheets and four corresponding podcasts aimed at helping people who have experienced prolonged interpersonal trauma and abuse better understand their symptoms and provide information on NHS treatments and complementary therapies.


The initiative comes at a time when the country is facing unprecedented pressure on mental health services and many people without previous experience of mental health problems are seeing their mental health and wellbeing decline.

Recovery Code X founder, Anna Bragga, said:


“We’d like to thank Bedford Mayor, Dave Hodgson, for supporting our project. We contacted him back in March asking for help and were lucky to meet him to discuss our work and get his advice on several questions we had.


“Our next priority is getting the factsheets and podcasts out to the public. We’re organising an online forum to discuss this with mental health professionals and support workers in September. This initiative is about self-empowerment at a time when many people are feeling confused, anxious and disempowered. If we can get just one person on the path to healing and recovery, the work will all have been worthwhile, if we can get twelve, we’ll be ecstatic.”


People interested in finding out more about Complex PTSD can join Anna in a series of interactive online workshops next month with the Bedfordshire and Luton Recovery College.


Thursday 11th March 2021

Recovery Code X wins National Lottery award to help people with Complex PTSD get through Covid pandemic

Recovery Code X, the Bedford-based community

group set up to help people navigate a way to better
health after long term inescapable trauma or abuse
and raise awareness of Complex PTSD, has been
awarded a grant from the National Lottery Awards for All.


REACHING OUT to survivors

The money will be used to produce and distribute print and audio resources to help people knowingly or unknowingly struggling with Complex PTSD in Bedfordshire during the Covid19 pandemic.


Project Educate 2021 Stage One will see the creation and distribution of self-help factsheets and podcasts for survivors, their friends and families in a Bedfordshire-wide campaign.


The guides will address the following themes:


·  Understanding Complex PTSD – for survivors

·  Supporting recovery: Do’s and Don’t’s - for friends and families

·  NHS treatments available during Covid19 and how to access them.

·  Holistic therapies survivors can access and the symptoms they address.


Studies have shown that education can reduce self-blame, shame and other negative thought patterns. It can be also be a catalyst for change, and the exploration of treatment options.

Founder, Anna Bragga, said: “Project Educate 2021 builds on our previous work running peer support groups. Effective distribution of the self-help resources will be key to the success of the project. Anyone interested in stocking copies of the double-sided flyers or obtaining the podcasts should contact Recovery Code X .”                                       

Enquiries: email admin@recoverycodex.org