Jessica Darling set up The Poplar Acupuncture Centre in Brownfield Street, London E14, in 1982 with the help and encouragement of friends and a local GP. She was a registered nurse and trained as an acupuncturist in China where she grew up. The centre opened its doors on 2nd January 1983.
From the start, the centre offered a sliding scale of charges to make acupuncture truly affordable at a time when acupuncture was not widely available in London and confined to expensive practices in Harley Street.
The centre gradually grew in popularity attracting more practitioners and offering other therapies such as massage, reflexology and osteopathy. We changed our name to Pathways in 1986 to reflect the broader range of treatments on offer.
As the years went by, patients suggested Pathways should be registered as a charity, as it already operated like one. With their help, and the backing of the UK’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Pathways Trust was born in 1995.
Patients and ex-patients formed the management committee as they were most familiar with Pathways aims and objective as well as the problems of underfunding the practice faces every day. Over the years, the board of trustees has generously given their time and overseen the progression of Pathways Trust.
We have received donations from patients, friends and supporters, all of which go towards funding our sliding scale.
We have also worked closely with other voluntary organisations in Tower Hamlets, often providing practitioners for their open days and other community programs.We have occasionally received some funding for specific projects, including:
- ‘Healthy Living Without Walls’ – in which we carried out home visits for people too ill or frail to come to our premises, and to operate a low-cost herbal medicine clinic.
- The SHADA project – where we provided complementary treatment sessions for local residents connected to the Ocean Estate Tenants and Leaseholders Association, Dame Colet house and the Bengali Resource Centre.
- Friends of St. Clements – we were sponsored to give treatments for inpatients in St. Clements hospital.
- Paul’s Bow Common Church – a council-funded initiative where we ran a by-weekly drop-in centre at which Tower Hamlets residents were offered complementary medicine treatments at a low cost (£5).
- Bowhaven – we currently work with the mental health charity, providing acupuncture, massage and nutritional advice for their clients.
The clinic has operated from various premises in Tower Hamlets over the last 33 years: first moving from Poplar to Stepney Green, then to Limehouse and finally to our current location of Bethnal Green in 2004.