Gloucestershire Funders’ Spotlight is a series aimed at raising awareness of some of the organisations we have helped to fund. Each week we speak with a representative and ask them questions about what it is that they do, what they have learned during the last few months, and how else they might be supported to ensure they can keep making a difference to lives in Gloucestershire. This week we spoke with Margaret from Cotswold Counselling.
Q1: What does Cotswold Counselling do, where are you based and who do you work with?
Cotswold Counselling was established as an affordable service for the local community 31 years ago. We offer low cost counselling to adults and children struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health challenges, all of which are now compounded by Covid19. We are based in Cirencester and see clients from the Cotswold area.
Q2: How has Cotswold Counselling and the people you work alongside been affected over the last 3 months?
Cotswold Counselling made rapid changes to be able to offer remote working in response the Covid-19 situation. The counsellors were re-trained and assessed to work on the telephone and/or by video for those clients who could access this, and the remaining 30% of our clients are contacted regularly until we can resume face-to-face counselling. New clients are offered either way of working and the volunteer counsellors have increased the number of sessions they can offer to meet the demand and to avoid waiting lists building up. The management, supervision and administration staff have also been working extra hours to manage the work and implement new policies and procedures.
The implications of the virus and lockdown carry huge repercussions for mental health. All our new clients are citing Covid-19 during their referrals as well as anxiety about returning to school. Impacts include: people confined in unhappy / abusive relationships; children exposed to violence at home; parents working while home-educating; parents managing behavioural issues without school’s support; multiple children confined in inadequate housing; additional health fears for people already experiencing poor health or high anxiety; concern around identity and purpose especially if furloughed/ unemployed; extreme loneliness for those who are shielded. Covid-19 compounds the issues of people who were struggling anyway and causes new people to struggle.
Q3: Have you learned anything or been surprised by anything during this time?
The volunteer counsellors have learned the new skills of telephone and video counselling. This new way of working is something we will continue to offer once lockdown has ended to those clients that wish, enabling us to cater to those who cannot access the Centre eg. the housebound or those with transport issues.
Q4: How will the money from Gloucestershire Funders be used by Cotswold Counselling?
Cotswold Counselling have suffered a reduction in income during the Covid-19 situation, with rising costs from retraining and assessments, increased management and administration support, telephone expenses and supervision costs. Fixed costs such as premises, services and insurance etc remain fixed. The funding from Barnwood will be used to alleviate the shortfall in income and support the costs of implementing the service. The grant will enable us to continue to provide a safe and effective service, whilst ensuring the longer-term survival of the agency.
Q5: Are you still fundraising? How can people support your organisation?
Yes, Cotswold Counselling are continuing to fundraise. Donations can be made by bank transfer or via PayPal. Details can be found on our Website and Facebook page.