We’ve been awarded £112,000 by BBC Children in Need

26 February 2016

Relate Bedfordshire and Luton has been awarded £112,057 over three years by BBC Children in Need.Children-in-Need

The award enables us to continue to offer our FREE confidential, face-to-face counselling service to children and young people aged 10 – 18 years and to extend our service to include FREE play therapy for children aged 5-10 years.

The children’s play therapy and young people’s counselling services focus on relationship, emotional and behavioural issues and have three target aims:

Improved relationships – “These services can and do help children and young people understand themselves and understand others better,” says Angela Foll, CEO at the local Relate Centre, “and this leads to improved communication and relationships with their families and peers. Whether the service is in the form of structured sessions for older children or through play for younger children, we can help to improve self-esteem and self-confidence and how to express yourself more positively and effectively.

“The opportunity for children and young people to talk openly and safely with a professionally qualified counsellor enables them to learn strategies for listening and being listened to. When children and young people feel that their relationships with parents, siblings, peers and school are improving, they are likely to be more positive about their life; perform better at school and behave more constructively.”

Improved mental health and well-being “Some children and young people who access our services experience mild to moderate mental health problems, including stress, worry, and anxiety,” says Angela. “Counselling and play therapy allow children and young people to voice their worries and concerns in a safe environment. Strategies and tools can be discussed in the play therapy/counselling session to enable the child or young person to understand their feelings and how to cope with them.”

Coping with life’s challenges “Children and young people face varied stressful and changeable situations including death of a parent; caring for a disabled parent or carer; loneliness; homelessness; loss of friends etc.,” says Angela. “The ability to cope and face such challenges sometimes needs to be learned. Play therapy and counselling allows children and young people to talk about their situations and face their fears and anxieties. “The process of talking to a counsellor, or using toys, drawing or role-play to express themselves, allows children and young people to work through their emotions and develop strategies to help them cope.

“Building resilience is crucial as individuals move from childhood to adulthood; this resilience helps people deal with situations more positively rather than adopting negative behaviours such as self-harm, excessive drinking, or angry outbursts.”

Feedback from children and young people counselled by Relate Bedfordshire and Luton during 2013 to 2015 shows that 73% indicated that their relationships had improved or were improving; 83% said they were feeling better in terms of stress/worry/self-esteem; and 85% felt more able to cope with problems.

Their comments included:

  • “I am not argumentative with my mum when she tells me to do something.”
  • “I feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest that has resulted in me feeling like the ‘old me’.”
  • “I have learned to speak to people around me about problems I have and anything I’m worrying about to take stress away.”

During 2014 – 2015, Relate Bedfordshire and Luton delivered 26% more counselling hours compared with the previous year and more than half of that increase in hours (57%) was spent supporting children and young people.

“By working in a preventative way,” says Angela, “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.”

Relate Bedfordshire and Luton offers counselling for children and young people in centres across Bedfordshire and Luton.

If you’re a child, young person or parent looking for FREE counselling support for your young son  or daughter call 01234 356350.

Visit our Children & Young People webpage by clicking here.

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