Abi Freshwater

Policy Advisor - Resilience


What am I responsible for?

I am responsible for leading on the development of policy relating to disability and mental health at Barnwood Trust, which also seeks to drive change in the county. I have a specific remit around resilience and climate emergency.


What brings me here?

Market Stall, Cocktail Waitress, Goth/Rock Club, Radio, English Tourist Board, Temp’, Crystal/Thomson Holidays, Tui, Naturewatch, League Against Cruel Sports, Papillon Publicity, NHS, Barnwood Trust

Having spent 20 years in some form or PR/Comms role, I had an epiphany after the birth of my son and returned to college, training in Person Centred therapy, I volunteered at Cotswold Counselling for many years before going into private practice. My work at Barnwood has been enhanced by the people who have trusted me with their stories and whose voices stay with me as we strive to promote positive change in the county.


What am I working on?

I’m part of the Integrated Care System’s Community Mental Health Transformation Project, specifically with the People’s Representative Action Board  a group of experts with a range of experiences connected with mental health which is working towards co-designing a more holistic, ‘one door’ structure for place based mental health services.

I also meet with the chairs of the Joint Partnership Boards for people with Autism, unpaid/family carers, people with physical and sensory impairments, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health challenges to share insights.

I’ve been working on processes which ensure that the Trust’s work is fully informed by the evidence unearthed by our research team, and to create responsive policies which reflect our commitments to disabled people in Gloucestershire. I also actively monitor relevant national policy and government legislation from first reading, and this informs some of the areas we focus our research and committee inquiries that we may have useful responses to.

With the support of Go Climate Positive we have calculated our carbon footprint and are creating a plan to reduce it to beyond neutral by 2030, our first Environmental Policy supports this.


What do I enjoy spending time doing for my own wellbeing?

Cuddling the dog and cat, walking the dog (and sometimes the cat comes too), being in nature, photography, Pilates, handstands, creating edible, vegan, gluten free versions of food I miss, reading, learning, supporting Chelsea football club (not always good for my wellbeing) with my son. (She/her)