In Coronavirus Funding Impact Stories, Funding Stories, Physical & mental health, wellbeing & safety

Project: Continuing to provide help to local people through quality, professional counselling
Grant: £3,000
Fund: NET Coronavirus Appeal (more info)

Relate is the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, helping people of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities to strengthen their relationships.

With a £3,000 grant from the NET Coronavirus Appeal, Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire were able to offer front line counselling services during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic to local people in need of support.

Delivered online via video call, the grant enabled Relate to continue to provide reliable, direct help to local people through quality, professional counselling including relationship therapy, family counselling, couples therapy, funded counselling for cancer patients and survivors, psychosexual therapy, and bereavement counselling.

Demand for Relate’s web-counselling increased each week as the lockdown restrictions impacted on relationships that were already under strain, or put new stress on people forced to spend long periods of at home together, often with young children, with no access to their normal support network.

“The speed of the response to our request for financial assistance to continue delivering our vital service has made such a difference at a time when we are under pressure to continue delivering counselling to local people”.

The combination of emotional and practical uncertainty, financial pressures, sickness, bereavement, living in a confined space and lack of external contact created intense mental and emotional stress for the most vulnerable people in our communities. Among those requiring web-counselling were, and continue to be, key workers as the immediate and long-term effects of such stressful circumstances play out.

One of Relate’s experienced counsellors reported: “Our web-counselling provides continuity of support for clients at a time when, not only are they managing relationship distress, but coping with all the uncertainties and anxieties that the pandemic raises for them. Providing support in this way complies with our BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) ethical duty of care for clients – promoting wellbeing and avoiding harm. At a time when so many therapeutic services [were, and in some cases still are] unavailable our counselling enables clients to engage in self-care… this can contribute to a sense of stability and routine.”

Another of Relate’s counsellors added: “Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire clients are mostly already experiencing relationship distress or vulnerability, so the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic obviously places significant additional stress.

“Most of us are experiencing sudden, unplanned endings – exams cancelled, work furloughs, loss of contact with family, or institutions of work and social networks, as well as bereavements. The switch to web-counselling means that the sessions don’t have to be another unplanned ending that could exacerbate relationship difficulties; sessions can offer a safe space to talk about the impact of the pandemic on all areas of life. If clients needed Relate before the pandemic, they most likely need us even more in the current situation.”


Main image created by Relate and posed for by actors.