The Centre for Counselling and Spirituality
At St Peters we cannot help but be aware of the fact that many people who use the city centre have a need for practical and emotional support that goes beyond what the church is able to provide on an informal basis. With this in mind St Peters, working with representatives of other churches and of counselling and support organisations in the city, has for some time been working on a plan to set up a Centre for Counselling and Spirituality - able to offer immediate short-term support to those whose needs for counselling are not being met elsewhere, and company on their spiritual journey to others who want to explore this dimension of their lives.
At Easter this year this plan became reality, and "Reflection" opened its doors to its first clients under the wise and expert leadership of Mairi Evans, a qualified psychotherapist who has done much work with the nationally-known Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute.
The Centre now occupies premises on Standard Hill, above the offices of St Marys church. Through donations of time, skills and equipment it has been able to furnish and equip these to a high standard and to make them both comfortable and welcoming. The counselling service is provided at present for one day a week (currently Friday), offering both daytime and evening appointments, with a maximum of sixteen clients being seen on any one day.
The Centres main objective is to provide an immediate response in cases of need, offering short-term counselling for a period of up to eight weeks. The principle of being able to offer a prompt response is an important one, and has been noted by referring agencies such as the Queens Medical Centre - whose psychiatric and social work staff have started to make referrals to the Centre, finding that it fills an important gap in the services available in the City. Other referrals come through churches, Social Services, the Nottingham Counselling Centre, the YMCA or direct from individuals in need. Each person referred is initially assessed by the Centre Director to determine whether the situation is one in which short-term counselling is appropriate - if it is not, steps are taken to refer the client on to a more suitable agency. The Centre aims to see clients within a week of their first making contact, thus providing help at the time when the client feels it is most needed.
The Centre now has six counsellors, all of whom are qualified or in training and who each offer their services voluntarily for a few hours per week. In accordance with good professional practice, the counsellors are supervised by qualified and experienced therapists who are paid for the work that they do. One of the counsellors is able to work with sign language and is available when required to work with deaf clients. A further development has been the setting up of a therapy group which meets once a week, and which clients can join for an eight-week period once one-to-one therapy has been completed.
Open to all
The Centre has adhered to its policy of dealing with clients from a wide range of backgrounds and social circumstances. Most come from the lower end of the income scale, and around 70% describe their background as non-religious. All clients make some contribution towards the cost of counselling, but the difficult financial situation of many means that the average contribution made is quite small.
During the coming year the Centre is hoping to expand its work to cover more than the present one day a week. Additional counsellors are available who have indicated their willingness to support this expansion. The Centre is also expecting to appoint a new director in 1999 since Mairi Evans is retiring in March of that year.
Anyone interested in the work of the Centre can contact it direct on 0115 948 2323. The office is staffed only between 11am and 1pm on Fridays (and may not be staffed during school holidays or half-term), but messages left at other times will be dealt with promptly. Alternatively, speak to Leslie, Jonathan Page or myself if you would like further information.