Local demand for help with relationships has grown by 26% in just one year, says Relate Bedfordshire and Luton in their 2014-15 annual report.
The local Relate team have delivered 26% more hours of services compared with the previous year – and more than half of that time (57%) has been spent supporting children and young people.
CEO Angela Foll says: “Good quality relationships remain key to our wellbeing and happiness, even as the world around us changes rapidly. In fact, strong relationships are our best asset when coping with the challenges that modern life throws at us.
“At Relate Bedfordshire and Luton we help those who are single or in a relationship, straight or gay, young or old. Whatever the circumstances, our whole team are dedicated to helping clients get the most out of their relationships, no matter how big or small the issue.”
Asked about the high number of young people among the Centre’s clients, Angela points to evidence showing that emotional and mental health problems developed in childhood and adolescence can damage our emotional and physical health in later life. “Our counsellors are experienced relationship experts who can help children and young people talk honestly and openly in a safe environment,” she says.” Our confidential service helps children and young people explore and develop coping strategies for a whole range of problems, such as parental divorce and separation, bullying, loss and bereavement, new step-parents and siblings, sexual identity and self-harm.
“By working in a preventative way, our children and young people services can help break destructive behaviour patterns before they lead to more serious mental and physical health problems and disadvantage and can improve the chances of children and young people reaching their full potential.”
During 2014-2015, Relate Bedfordshire and Luton delivered 3,201 hours of children and young people counselling, a 52% increase on the previous year.
But the Centre also continues to provide relationship counselling for adults. “Many people believe that Relate is only here to help with the major crises in people’s relationships, but we are also here for the worries that might seem trivial or minor,” says Angela. “We aim to empower clients by increasing their understanding, so they can go on to make choices about how they manage their relationships.”
In addition to face-to-face counselling for individuals and couples in venues across Bedfordshire and Luton, the Relate Centre offers telephone and webcam counselling via Skype “so busy people don’t even need to leave their living room”, says Angela.
Counselling for families has also reached record levels – increasing by 51% in the year under review.
The Centre also delivered more sex therapy sessions – a 58% increase on the previous year. “Many people may find it difficult to talk about sex with their partners, but as a quarter of people locally are dissatisfied with their sex lives, according to our research, it is clear that things aren’t as good as they could be for many people,” says Angela. “The first step in improving sex for most people is to start talking honestly about what they want from their sex life and, crucially, listening to their partner’s wishes as well.”
Along with training courses and workshops in interpersonal and life skills for individuals and organisations, up by 42 %, “we have had a busy year”, says Angela.
Reporting also on a 15% increase in income for the year and a small surplus, Angela says the not-for-profit charity “continues to face an uncertain financial environment, but we end
2014 – 15 in a solid position from which we can face continued financial challenges”.