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Support Michelle to train as an Art's Counsellor

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My name is Michelle Rodrigues and I am a single-parent with a long-term health condition.  It has always been my dream to become an Arts Counsellor, and I have invested so much of my life to cultivating strands of this deep longing.  My children are now young adults, and my fibromyalgia has stabilised enough for me to embark on this training.    

I have found a school which aligns with my own approach at the Tobias School of Art and Therapy.   However, my personal circumstances leave me unable to afford the training, as currently there is no access  to government student loans or bursaries for this programme.  

The first year is the real hurdle that I need to get over, as once that is completed I will be able to apply for loans and grants from independent societies which support students in their second and third years of training.

I will be paying my tuition fees in termly instalments, and need to keep the momentum of this fundraiser going to see me through this first year of training in a career that I feel I was truly meant for.  I deeply appreciate every contribution and share.

Warmest wishes, Michelle 
Beneficiary of this Fundraiser


Greetings dear friends, I  first met Michelle last year through a women's circle and was so incredibly moved by her wisdom, her creativity and her generosity. 

I witnessed Michelle's deep longing to train as an Arts Counsellor, and to give her gifts of art and deep listening, born through lived experience, to communities who are being kept on the margins .

For me, as a birthing doula, partnering with Michelle to bring her dream to life has been a deep honour.

With care, Johara
Organiser of this Fundraiser

A bit about Michelle's Journey (< 2 minutes)


Slideshow of Michelle's work and intentions (8 minutes)

Below is an interview Johara had with Michelle about her intention
 to become an Arts Counsellor:

What motivates you to become an Arts Counsellor?

I have always intuitively used art as a way to process thoughts, feelings and experiences that I found difficult to put into words. In a culture that is increasingly inept at holding space for multiplicity and the complexity of our inner worlds, I feel that creativity offers expansive ways in – something we desperately need.


How do you hope to use this in the future?

Accessibility is something that is very important to me. Often it's the people on the margins, living right up against the edge, who desperately need space held for them; only to find that what is most needed to move forward is inaccessible. I'm really committed to finding ways of working to reach those people.

I am particularly interested in working with people of colour and displaced peoples. As the daughter of two immigrants from India and the Caribbean – themes of loss, identity, grief and belonging have been at the heart of my own life and work. I have a particular interest in working with grief and loss. I would like do my placements with organisations that support migrants and refugees, and to do further placements in palliative and end of life care.


Why now?

It’s been a long time coming to get to this point – crossing some very rocky ground in my personal life to get here! I completed an art therapy foundation in 2006, but wasn’t able to continue forwards as I had just left my marriage, and was solely responsible for raising three very young children. In 2016 I completed a foundation at Roehampton University, but again had to defer my progression onto the Masters degree as my father died, and that same year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Now I am at a point in my life where I finally have enough space to pursue this pathway that has always called me. My three children are all young adults now, and I have a better developed support network for myself in general.


Why are you crowdfunding?

I have chosen to study at Tobias School of Art & Therapy because they centre a holistic, spiritual and nature-oriented approach to the work; which I find personally resonant. They are not a mainstream educational provider; therefore, the course is not eligible for government student loans, college bursaries or post-graduate loans. Without access to conventional funding streams, my personal circumstances make this pathway financially prohibitive for me – which is why I am crowdfunding.


Can you provide a breakdown of the costs?

Here is a full cost breakdown:

£ 6090 – Tuition Fees Year 1

£ 800 – Overnight accommodation (40 weeks @ £20)

£ 900 – Mandatory personal therapy (15 sessions @ £60)

£ 844 – Travel (40 weeks @ £21.10)

£ 240 – Art material costs


£ 8874 Total


How would the funds you are raising be used?

All of the funds raised will be used for expenses incurred for the first year of this training programme. As detailed in costs breakdown, my costs include travel and overnight accommodation, as the course is situated in West Sussex and I live in London.

Training such as this is prohibitively expensive for someone from my circumstances. But, as contradictory as it may seem, I feel like I have so much to bring to the table precisely because of the personal challenges I’ve faced. Your support will help open the door for me to bring my valuable skills to the table.

I feel like I have so much to offer, and am grateful for any support that can be raised through Crowdfunding to help me get qualified. Your financial contribution, however big or small, will help make possible sharing my own offerings to many, many others.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Warmest wishes,









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Organizer and beneficiary

Johara Bellali
Michelle Rodrigues

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