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About Freezone

Brian’s story

Addiction is a terrible disease. When one meets an addict they can see the obvious – the self neglect, the separation from society, the loss of self respect. What you cannot see are the inner consequences to the soul. Denial, substitution, rationalization, justification, distrust of others, guilt, embarrassment, dereliction, degradation, isolation, and loss of control are all results of the disease of addiction. When an addict makes the decision to get clean it is this part of the disease that they must wrestle with. Treatment centres will get a person physically clean but after that to stay on the path of recovery is a challenge that should not be undertaken as a solo journey. Fortunately, there are 12 step fellowships that help with the inner spiritual recovery that is required not to pick up again. One is encouraged to live by spiritual principles, thus learning a new way to live that is happy, joyous, and free.

When I began my journey of recovery many years ago it was suggested to me to explore spiritual practices to broaden my understanding of serenity. I was desperate not to go back to my old way of life, so I gave it a go. One day I sat on the beach and watched the sun go down. I was in awe of the beauty and felt connected to the universe. Something ignited in my soul that I had never experienced before. It was the feeling of joy, something that had become foreign to me in my active addiction. I understood what was being suggested to me by these people trying to help me.  I wanted to explore this ‘spiritual thing ‘so I joined some meditation groups. I really felt like a fish out of water sitting with these ‘professional’ meditators ( my own stuff of course, they were lovely people really😊). I loved the peace and could feel the connection to self blossoming inside me. I had an idea to go on a retreat to learn more about meditation and other healthy holistic practices, so I went online and searched. There were many available but I couldn’t afford any of them. People in early recovery are usually broke. I felt that there must be people in the same position as me, so I decided to put on a meditation weekend for people in recovery with the help of a few friends and a wonderful woman called Uli (who is an amazing meditation facilitator). We were offered a beautiful plot of land in the Purbecks at a very cheap rate for us to camp on for the weekend. Uli was facilitating and we had a massage therapist and a Spiritual Speaker for a chat around the fire on Saturday night. The cost would be £50 including food and camping. The event cost £400 (£200 of which I borrowed). I was worried no one would come but 8 people showed up! The universe was definitely looking after us!

Jo Billingham

Uli introduced me to Ant, Roz and Adi, amazing facilitators who have supported Freezone from the beginning. Dainei, Carl, Lizzie and Pavani (also world class facilitators) joined us soon after and these people and more have become family to me. They’ve supported Freezone all these years and I have immense love and respect for them. They donate their time and efforts to the aims of Freezone and are the most beautiful souls who have supported, encouraged, and shared with us for many years. I have learnt so much from them!

After doing 1 event each month during the summer of 2009,  I felt that Freezone belongs to everybody, so we formed the charity in 2010. I earn a living being an electrician – Freezone is my service, giving back and no one is paid at Freezone. We offer retreats based on 10  – 15 guests for what they cost. This makes it truly non-profit and accessible to most. There’re usually 10 – 15 guests and 10 facilitators/therapist/coordinators – a good number of people in a field for unity. If ‘newcomers’ have no money they can do a little volunteering helping set up. If somebody is struggling, they can come for free.

The gifts that I have received are learning the meaning of connection, serenity, self-love and an awareness of the importance of nurturing my spirit. We have had many people attend Freezone over the years who have taken the experience of tasters in various spiritual practices and then gone down their chosen path. We have had many people come on the edge of a relapse (or divorce, bereavement, illness etc) and have connected with the love, support and unity shown at a Freezone Retreat then going home with hope in their heart. Over the years there has grown a community of Freezoners who support and encourage each other. It is a joy to witness these amazing people!

Jo Billingham

We did the retreats for many years with an old ropey marquee that was gifted to us. We also relied on the kindness of people to transport all the gear (marquees, spare tents and a field kitchen) in their van to various venues. I tried to get funding for new kit many years ago but found that funders didn’t understand what we were up to. They didn’t agree with the truly not for profit thing and many thought once people are clean that’s job done. My experience is that getting clean is the easy part, but staying clean is a different ball game that requires support, effort, and commitment. After many knockbacks I gave up on trying to get funding. The retreats ticked over for years, we didn’t make money, but we also didn’t lose money. One year we made a profit of £14 which made me smile.

The lovely people at Gaunts House offered me the Summer Gathering weekend at a reasonable rate and I decided to give Freezone Festival a go as a fundraiser for the charity.  Legally, a charity fundraiser only has to give 10% of it’s profit to the named charity – we give 100%.  Supported by our amazing Freezone Retreat facilitators who understand the essence of Freezone Retreat and how it benefits people in recovery, and loads more wonderful facilitators, we have created an awesome program! Since we started the festival 3 years ago, we have made just enough money to buy a cheap van, a new marquee, and a new website. I feel the festival is a great way to fundraise as it fits in with our ethos of community, support and spiritual growth. It is a fundraiser, and we want to make money, but we also want to share the love shown at a Freezone Retreat which is just as important to us.

The vision for Freezone in the future is that one day we can purchase a small woodland and hold even cheaper more accessible events to aid the whole community. We could hold focused events that support individuals struggling with certain issues. And also hold events that celebrate the fact that we are all awesome human beings and the gratitude that encompasses. But whatever we do the focus will be on the community being loving and caring.

I feel extremely blessed to have embarked on this journey of recovery, Freezone, and meeting all the amazing people who have shared with me and shown me the way.

Love to you all!!


Vicks perspective

I attended Freezone retreat in 2015 and was blown away by the genuine and simple community spirit.  We did yoga, walked along the cliffs, attended workshops & meditation sessions, ecstatic dance etc – all of top quality.  Though what I treasure the most is the beginning of deep friendships, unbridled laughter around the fire, and the awe of seeing the milky way (I had no idea it could be seen from England, let alone above Swanage!) and sitting silently together for over an hour watching a full blood moon lunar eclipse.  I vowed to go back, but typically of me I continued my enjoyable but somewhat manic life, until I couldn’t.  As a result of common but dreadful medical direction re psychiatric meds I became really mentally ill.  The sprit of Freezone was made truly apparent to me, when Brian (who I barely knew) offered me a free space at the retreat – “ being with others and feeling love in a field might help you”.  I was unable to go, but I will always remember that kindness – and I saw again the true nature of Freezone.   Of course, in more recent years, I’m now lucky enough to attend all of them!  And each one blows me away – old friends and brand new ones get together and each time there’s an alchemy of  true service, quality, authenticity, simplicity and community that creates real love.  I believe humans are struggling as a result of disconnect from our true nature and not living as we are meant to – and I’m passionate about the emerging embracing of everyone, addicts or not, at the retreats so we can all connect as we are meant to.  For these reasons I’m happy,  alongside Brian and MANY others, to do service for the Festival to help us realise the future aims of Freezone Charity so we can offer this more widely and more regularly, maintaining all the ethics it has maintained since Brian created it.  I hope you can do the same by coming to and enjoying the Big Freezone!  With much love, Vick

Jo Billingham

Dainei Tracy

I first met Brian through Carl and he asked me to come and be a ‘facilitator round the fire’ and guide a little Yoga at Freezone retreats. I had heard of the friendly and inclusive gatherings (I think Brian had just started them) and was very pleased to be invited. Also I was looking to widen my community connections and have more generous places to land in my life. I had just come out of a thirty year marriage and was floating quite a bit.
Addiction has threaded its way through my family as it has for most of us. For me, coming from the most full on sex, drugs and rock n roll era, (pre-marriage) awash with everything you can imagine, means I am comfortable at the edge. I am comfortable with intensity. I am comfortable with reality and I love a lack of pretence. I am at home with any way we, as humans, have responded to our social environments and feel the longing in my heart to meet with suffering where it exists, inner or outer.
It is always such a pleasure to sit around the fire and share, whether it’s a twelve steps format or spontaneous family vibes. The sparks rise up, merging with the stars as we laugh and cry together, and maybe alone too.
We have all sorts of visiting facilitators, workshops and healers and we all make the meals and clean up.The pace of it is nourishing in every way.
Freezone is an evolving spirit of its own made up of all the energy of everyone who comes, just as Brian has always wanted it to be. He has sown a seed and it is growing. Joined by Vic and the Freezone family of supporters which chops and changes in a lovely organic way and allows the magic to flow.
We are all at Freezone gently avoiding the values of profit first and kudos that drive so much of this world, in order to make a space that can be more grounded and connected because this is something that needs to be nurtured as an antidote to the greater ’Machine’.
This culture we live in that I believe creates a lot of unnecessary suffering by its lack of compassion and the lack of recognition of soul as a priority.
Freezone is a soul based energy matrix, come and lend a little of your spirit any time it feels good to you. It is always welcome.
So see you in a field very soon. 🙂
Dainei Tracy

Jo Billingham