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Setting up a free-to-user clinic? Things to think about

 Trustee Barbara Robinson takes us through what will be required to set up a free-to-user clinic, using a World Medicine Acupuncture in Action Grant.

What will your clinic look like? WM’s experience at Grenfell, Wapping and in India has provided us with a few tips and considerations for setting up and managing clinics such as this, which we are happy to share.  (Staff at JRS Wapping refer to patients as Refugee Friends or Friends, and we have adopted that.)

Clinic type:
Multibed? Seated? This will depend on space, equipment, daily setting up time, personal inclination and targeted beneficiary group.  WM’s experience is that good results can be achieved with seated auricular treatments and is time efficient for stress/trauma/anxiety/insomnia treatments. It is also more suitable for mixed gender groups. Where full body qualified acupuncturists are volunteering they can also offer distal points to great effect.

In our India clinics where 80% of complaints are musculo-skeletal we have access to hospital beds, and this has some benefits – not least it prevents patients wandering around with needles in!
Where space is limited, think carefully before running a mix of seated and couch – we have found that patients directed to seated areas perceive they have been short-changed compared to lying down on the couch, which they think implies a more thorough treatment.  Explaining the workings of acupuncture points regardless of physical position becomes difficult when there are translation issues.

Space and equipment:
A large roomy space with plenty of natural light that does not have through traffic is ideal.
Is it accessible for both volunteers and Friends?
Community spaces are often already equipped with chairs which, hopefully, are wipeable.  If placed in pairs with a good space around you have a place to perch yourself while working and not be hampered by being close to a wall or other furniture.  Good spacing also encourages Friends to enjoy the quiet and get the most from their needle time.

Stacked chairs in the corner of the room take only minutes to set out and equipment is stored in a bag with treatment notes in a locked cupboard in the same room, if possible.
A table is needed to set out equipment during the clinic.
A list of suggested equipment is here

Is the space free to use? This is where costs could mount up – by seeking out ‘hosts’ it is possible to benefit from a committed partner who knows their Friends and provide translation if needed.

You could start by checking out charities in your area with similar target groups (eg British Red Cross); acupuncture or multidiscipline practices able to donate space a regular time each week (perhaps check with colleagues at your BAcC regional group – would also be good for gathering volunteers); social groups with a shared interest in helping your target recipients (Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain)
To be sustainable, and by that I mean still be operating in a year’s time, a weekly clinic with two practitioners attending will probably need a minimum of 8 volunteers to rotate, even better if you have 10 or even 12.  Sounds a lot, and you may think that you will be able to run it by yourself with perhaps another to help you and perhaps you can.  But wait – life has a way of intervening – what if that hospital appointment comes round at last and you don’t want to miss it/you wake up with a migraine/covid/a sick child? Having others to call upon is invaluable if you are not going to cancel a clinic.

Planning the rota well in advance is appreciated by volunteers, but it takes thought and prompt action is needed for last minute changes. A whatsapp group for volunteers to quickly contact each other is invaluable, its wonderful for letting the other volunteers know how the clinic went that week, and for the cohesion of the group when they rarely see each other.

The success of your clinic depends on your volunteers. It goes without saying that volunteers should be qualified, insured and DBS checked.  Sometimes DBS checking can get forgotten by the most conscientious of acupuncturists so it is useful to be able to offer this to your volunteers.  We use an online company – Aaron’s Department – for our DBS processing.  Your group will need to have at least 2 nominated admin/checkers set up on their system.  It is very simple and you can take advantage of the admin only charge which means for processing volunteers, the cost is as low as £8 per person – this is easily covered by the grant: why not offer this free to your volunteers?

Understand your beneficiary group:
How are you going to let them know you are there? Any advertising, discussions with host/partners should be targeted.  Consider your response if other groups outside of your target wish to avail themselves of your service. Is that okay with you – do you say Yes to everyone – or do you say No?
It’s a difficult one ……… What was your original reason for setting up the clinic?  A ‘mission statement’ is useful here as it provides a clear pointer in the minds of the volunteers who their beneficiary group are, and that in turn helps with their commitment.  Consider also where the financial support has come from – does what you are doing still align with your and your donors’ intentions?

WM is offering £2000 for set up costs, usually 50% initially and 50% after 6 months.  However, if there are circumstances that require 100% initially then this can be considered. It will be necessary to have a bank account in the name of your group. Recipients of the grant are free to use it as they wish, but we think equipment and volunteers’ travel expenses have highest priority.  Having a limit on amount that may be claimed per volunteer, per session, is useful as it facilitates planning.

We feel it is important to be able to assess, after a time, how your clinic is doing. Your gut feeling may be that all is wonderful, which is great, but if you intend to revisit your original sponsor or even try elsewhere for continuation funds, it is useful to be able to demonstrate the success of your clinic. Perhaps after 6 months or so you could also ask your refugee friends for some feedback. 

WM use a standardised treatment form which has been modified over the years to hold all the relevant details of patient, data and tx consent box, date, practitioner, category of ailment, treatment, a severity ‘score’ and number of needles used.  Without creating an admin burden, we find that these details provide sufficient information to keep track of treatments, improvement rate and equipment usage so that reporting is possible. We are happy to share this with groups who may be interested.

Equipment list:
Most working acupuncturists will have an idea of what they need to operate, but to get you going without too much outlay I would suggest the following.  Of course, it will depend on how many Friends you will be treating per session and how complicated your treatments.  Regarding needles, based on a keystone treatment of 10 ear needles plus possible addition of 5 (average) body needles, treating 15-20 friends weekly for 3 months you might consider an initial order of the following, but review after a couple of months to check usage.

2000 auricular needles
1000 1” needles
1000 ½” needles

Ear seeds (clear backing)
Cotton wool and/or cotton buds
Sharps bin
Massage oil
Small paper cups for transporting needles to/from patient
Sterilising hand gel/wash
Ear probe (optional)
PPE if still using

(If chairs are needed, I find enquiries at local secondary schools, churches or office refit companies result in some no-longer-used furniture either free or for a small donation.)

April 2022

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Goodbye to 2021 and Welcome to 2022

By Emma Vaughan, Trustee

2021 proved to be another challenging year for almost everyone on the planet. We are still struggling with Covid, conflict and humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Myanmar to name but a few countries, in addition to the threats we, and the planet are facing from environmental damage. It can be overwhelming to consider the position that we are in so it is good to reflect on the great things that 2021 brought too!

handshake-heart-barbed-wire-400x400-1For us at World Medicine despite the disappointment of not being able to run our annual clinic in Chaparda, 2021 proved to be a very positive year. Our main achievement was the August launch of the Refugee Friends Clinic in Wapping, London. 5 months on and this project is on a very firm footing with a steady flow of both participants and volunteers. We are very much hoping that the model we have used to run the project may be replicated in other parts of the UK in the coming years.

Judith Blair, on one of her fundraising walks

Another achievement we have been very proud of is our Herculean fundraising efforts. So many people have engaged with us this year to help raise money. Earlier in the year we completed a virtual Kiltwalk and raised significant funds which we were able to use to support the Jay Ambe hospital in Chaparda when they were in dire need of an oxygen generator in May. The generosity of our friends and families are fundamental to the success of World Medicine and for this we are extremely thankful.

Rafe, limbering up!

Although so many have contributed so much, it feels right to specifically mention 3 fundraisers who have particularly supported World Medicine this year. Firstly, Rafe Robinson, our youngest fundraiser who astonished us with his commitment to the Kiltwalk and rallying friends and family to support him. Rafe raised hundreds of pounds and amazingly we believe that he might be limbering up for another walk in 2022! What an absolute star!

Stephanie, rolling along!

Secondly, Stephanie Robinson who skated, yes skated, 26 miles to raise funds for us. We have so much respect for this phenomenal achievement. Also, Stephanie asked work colleagues to donate money to our charity as a leaving present when she finished working recently before taking on a new job. It was such a generous gesture that really touched us.

Finally, Judith Blair, raised a huge amount of money through running an auricular acupuncture course and donating the fees to us. This was particularly poignant as we know Jude had a tough year one way and another.

Alison Gould, Chair of Trustees

Alison, our chairperson has also had a tough 2021 but we are delighted that she is going into 2022 feeling stronger.

Ups and downs has definitely been a feature of 2021. We lost friends that were important to us at World Medicine, we experienced various illnesses, accidents and mishaps. We also gained 3 new graduates Teresa, Chloe, and Amy who impressed us with their enthusiasm and experience.. we are really excited to have them on board. Sadly, again, we had to make the decision to defer our January 2022 trip to Chaparda until January 2023 and so we hope they will wait patiently until then, when, surely, we will return once more!!

Chaparda Challenge with feetThe Chaparda Challenge has kept many of us busy this year… read all about it on the dedicated page on our website. Chris Boles, our amazing IT friend and supporter has diligently diarised our efforts for us by writing a weekly blog. We have learnt so much about so many different parts of the world and for many of us, reading the diary has been the highlight of the whole virtual journey. Thank you Chris! Thousands of miles have now been walked in World Medicine’s name and thousands of pounds raised. We are not quite yet there but the end of the road is in sight… well almost!

Goodbye Phil, hello Gary!

Finally, we said goodbye to our fantastic fellow trustee Phil Montgomery and then said hello to our fabulous new trustee Gary Carvill. Never a dull moment!!

We look forward in 2022 to continue developing our commitment to providing acupuncture treatments in areas where it is most needed. With this in mind, we may canvas opinion regarding the naming of our charity to see if people believe that our name reflects the service we aim to provide. We are very committed to the work that we do and are very proud of all our volunteers, including acupuncturists, translators, fundraisers and administrative helpers and would like you all to have a say regarding our name! World Medicine’s tagline is “Acupuncture in Action”, and we have been wondering if this better reflects our work..

Meanwhile we wish you all a happy, healthy 2022 and would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your amazing support.

Emma on behalf of Trustees

Emma on a Kiltwalk

Emma is a trustee, intrepid trekker, and a magnificent fund raiser for World Medicine. In September she tackled and conquered the 3 Lock Ultra – a 49 mile cross country endurance trek, raising a huge amount in the process.  She continues to be a galvanising force and inspiration to others.  Thank you, Emma!


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JRS Clinic 2021 Report


Jesuit Refugees Service (JRS)/World Medicine (WM) acupuncture clinic

– an interim report

This is a multi-seated clinic which first opened on 18 August 2021, and operates regularly on Wednesday afternoons following a schedule agreed between JRS and WM.  The goal is to treat refugee friends living in the local community who already visit the JRS centre for various reasons such as food bank, legal advice, help with travel costs, learning the language and integration.
This report is a snapshot of progress to date.


A total of 24 people were treated between 18 August and 6 October 2021.  The patient group was composed of refugee friends plus 2 staff members (15 male and 9 female), and a total of 75 treatments were delivered.


There are currently 8 volunteers rotating, and 2 more are due to join the group in December.  All are appropriately qualified, insured and with recent DBS checks.  It was pleasing to note that all the practitioners gave positive feedback about the location as well as the JRS organisation.  In addition, feedback from patients regarding the treatment they received from practitioners was also very positive.


Treatments are mainly auricular, and when patients present with complaints of painful distal joints these are also treated while the patient is seated. It should be noted that there are often multiple complaints for any one patient – joint pain, headache, insomnia: and that the practitioners have noted the consistent theme of anxiety, stress and low mood among the patient cohort.

Acupuncture is known to be cumulative, and WM offer all patients a ‘course’ of 6 treatments, with an emphasis on asking patients to have at least 3 sessions to gain the most from the therapy.  To evaluate the benefit accrued, we generally assess data only from those patients who have attended for 3 or more sessions.  One notable result here, however, was a patient who felt 80% better after 2 treatments, decided they were happy with this result and did not attend further.

It is early days in the life of this new clinic, and to follow is an interim review of progress: please note that many have only just started on their 6 sessions and may have had only 2 or 3, however we thought it would be useful to get a snapshot of progress.  Using the criteria above, the table collates data from 15 patients over 67 treatments and reports the % change to the levels of complaint severity given at the start of their first treatments.

 No change (0%)Small change (20%)Moderate change (40%)Significant change (60%)Almost recovered (80%)Fully recovered (100%)
No of patients176010
% Total assessed change6.5%47%40%0%6.5%0%


Overall, we are encouraged by the progress made.  The clinic is becoming established at the JRS centre and WM look forward to successfully fulfilling their remit of using acupuncture to make a difference to the lives of a community who may have suffered from poverty, trauma or displacement.   

JRS Clinic 2021 Report Read More »


NADA fundraising training


imagesSeptember, 2021 saw a group of fifteen student, and recently-graduated acupuncturists and clinic supervisors undertake a three-day fundraising training in the NADA protocol, at the Northern College of Acupuncture, York. 

Jude Blair, who organised the event and led the training said, “I have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity. My thanks must go to Richard Blackwell, College Principal, who kindly provided room space for the training; to Phoenix Medical, for donating needles and other equipment and to an anonymous donor who provided all the printed learning materials. Also, special thanks must go to Janet Stevens and Ami Micklethwaite – graduates of Nca who recently took the NADA protocol training with me – for their time, energy, support and assistance both before and during the training and for helping to make the course so successful. There were also a few trainees who helped with the smooth running of the course by quietly working behind the scenes, disseminating information about the training, co-ordinating people who were interested in taking the course, providing transport to and from York and donating beverages for the breaks. Thank you all!!! 

Picture2“Everyone on the course worked hard to increase their knowledge and skills over the three days. I feel privileged to have been working with such an enthusiastic and dedicated group of people, who worked so well together, and I was humbled by how hugely supportive participants were of each other, openly and generously sharing their wide-ranging experience and expertise from other areas of their lives. Deep gratitude!”

A number of trainees have already expressed interest in volunteering for World Medicine and many are actively exploring ways to develop their practice to incorporate the use of the NADA protocol, to the benefit of their patients and clients. 

Funds raised will support the work of World Medicine in ongoing projects such as the 3 week annual acupuncture ‘camp’ in Gujarat, the weekly clinic for refugees in Wapping and to the development of further projects, both at home and abroad. 

If you are interested in taking the NADA training or volunteering for World Medicine projects, please get in touch by emailing



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The Refugee Friends Clinic

Clinic organiser Barbara Robinson writes…

The JRS clinic at Wapping started 5 weeks ago on 18th August and it has been very well received by refugee friends.

It is primarily a seated ear clinic but as our volunteers usually have both body and auricular skills we have also been able to treat any distal musculo-skeletal problems that have come up.  The last 5 weeks has seen a steady flow of between 8-12 friends each week plus several staff!  The organisational assistance from JRS has been excellent, the practitioners are in their stride now and the friends are getting used to the set up – they seem to appreciate the quiet atmosphere and are relaxed when they leave.  Next Wednesday will be the last of this cycle of 6 weeks.  We will have a gap of 1 week, then the next cycle of 6 will start on 6 Oct.

Many, many thanks go to all acupuncturists and staff at JRS for their open heartedness and commitment which has enabled this clinic to get off the ground, and I look forward to it continuing long into the future for the benefit of refugee friends.

The Refugee Friends Clinic Read More »

Jrs Uk Day Centre 2018 0215 Iguyo Wapping Welcoming Highres 001 18 860x490

New Refugee Friends acupuncture clinic

By Barbara Robinson, Trustee

New Refugee Friends acupuncture clinic opens 18th August!

Dallya Alhorri, JRS Refugee Activity Coordinator

Nearly there – on 4th August volunteer acupuncturists gathered at the Jesuit Refugee Service* day centre in Wapping to acquaint themselves with the space they will be treating in and to meet Dallya, the JRS Refugee Activities Coordinator.

The meeting was heart warming and productive with everyone buoyed by the thought of opening this new clinic for Refugee Friends.  The friends are offered 6 weekly sessions of acupuncture to help with a range of health concerns, particularly trauma, anxiety, depression, insomnia and grief.  Treatment is primarily auricular with the friends seated; however distal points may also be used.

The first clinic will take place on 18th August at 2pm, with the last friend being treated at 4pm.  Friends are encouraged to attend for all 6 treatments as we know that acupuncture is a cumulative experience and that will give greatest benefit.  At the end of this 6 week ‘block’ there will be one week break then another block of 6 weekly treatment will commence.

My thanks go to Sarah, Julia, Suzannah Caroline, Najma, Sally and Catherine for their commitment and wonderful enthusiasm.

The volunteers are all qualified acupuncturists or NADA practitioners with insurance and DBS checks in place. When allocated to deliver treatments in a 6 week block, volunteers are asked to commit to 3 afternoons in that block.  They may then miss a block but commit to 3 afternoons in a subsequent 6 week block.

We are always looking for new volunteers, so if you feel you would love to help at the Friends’ clinic, please contact me at

Barbara xx

*The Jesuit Refugee Service can be found at has been operating for over 40 years. It is a Catholic organisation providing legal advice, small grants, emotional support and befriending to destitute asylum seekers in London and at the Heathrow detention centre.

They welcome all nationalities, people of any faith and no faith. 





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Refugee Community Kitchen

World Medicine will soon begin a new project supporting refugees in London. To mark this new venture for us, our Guest Blog today is written by Sasiki Hubberstey, who, in 2017 was one of hundreds of volunteers who served meals to refugees in the infamous ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais. Sasiki recently made a ‘virtual’ return visit to Calais as part of our team of ‘Chaparda Challenge‘ walkers covering the distance from York to Chaparda in India, so we asked her to recall her time working in the Refugee Community Kitchen.

Refugee Community Kitchen, Calais, 2017

351bc05e2976a7a81e51cdfccfe82c8760a0c0a12,750 meals each day.

That was the provision for the refugees stranded in the forest squats around Calais and Dunkirk when I volunteered several times in the RCK kitchen that year. Huge platefuls of rice and curry, salads, condiments, freshly cooked twice a day – with a good dollop of love and singing thrown in – by a team of volunteers, some long term, others, like me, for a week/weekend/month at a time.

Lone teenagers, families with babies, lone men, and a few lone women, from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Sudan…. Dispersed across France when ‘The Jungle’ had been destroyed the year before, gradually making their way back, to restore their hope to reach family/friends in UK.

76% of the refugees that RCK asked had had their meagre belongings destroyed by a branch of the police twice every week, at night, since their arrival. Tents destroyed, shoes removed, pepper sprayed. Many had been there for months.

war_and_poverty_misc-5255RCK provided food. No judgement, no questions. (Others provided tents, shoes, jackets, chargers for mobiles, medical aid etc). A wonderfully heartfelt, positive, committed, well-organised, daily operation of a scale I’d never seen before! Twelve hour days of prepping vast pots of veg and taking out to the forest squats twice a day, to the long long queues, surrounded by police. And washing up, cleansing floors and work surfaces, doing laundry. And starting again early the next day.

In such extremities, such warmth, such gentleness, gratitude, love, humility. One of the most moving places to be, ever. Thank you RCK x

Click below to watch a video on the work of the Refugee Community Kitchen.


Refugee Community Kitchen Read More »