The Development of Pathways Counselling Service
The initial vision was to establish a Counselling Service for the people of Hinckley and the surrounding area, run professionally by members of local churches as a service to the community.
There is a great need, already established within the area, for Counselling, particularly among clients who cannot afford private rates, which can range upwards from £40 per session.
The vulnerability of clients accessing these services cannot be stressed enough and a professional approach is considered vital to ensure their protection and the credibility of the Service.
The vision for Pathways began over 20 years ago but only really came to fruition in 2006 when Counsellors actually began to see clients under the banner of Pathways. An initial grant was received from the Diocese of Leicester – Parish Mission Fund – in March 2007 and again in 2010. These, together with income from clients and several small donations, have supported the work to date.
Many, if not all, of these clients would have been unable to afford private counselling and it is likely they would have had to go on a waiting list for NHS provision. The NHS counselling is not generally long-term, and so it has been good that at Pathways, we have been able to support a number of clients whose counselling was over 6-8 sessions and in many cases over several months and occasionally one or two years.
Where a client is receiving benefits we do not expect much contribution and many clients give £10. The contribution is at the Client’s discretion and we do not challenge this, except to suggest a contribution of £20 for the Assessment to help cover our administration costs. Even this is negotiable in the event of financial difficulty. If a Client genuinely cannot give anything – as may be the case with a young person – we do not see this as a barrier to them receiving counselling.
Pathways now has three counsellors from different denominational backgrounds, and we also accept trainee counsellors on placement. They are asked to commit to giving a minimum of three hours per week, although all give more than this when required. The breadth of available times and skills within the group makes it possible to offer quite a comprehensive service.
Since 2007, links have been made with local doctors’ surgeries and referrals are made on a regular basis by several GPs. Our counsellors have worked in local schools, both primary and secondary, and we also have a Creative Therapist working with children in local schools.
Suitable premises are always a difficult issue in order to maintain the confidential nature of the Service. Pathways has been fortunate in that some Counsellors have their own private rooms and also we have the use of two rooms at St John’s Church, Hinckley. St John’s PCC are also generous enough to provide these rent-free (although Pathways do make a donation, where funds allow, towards heating and lighting costs) for which Pathways is very grateful.
Pathways has always considered it to be important that we offer a professional service that has integrity and credibility with other statutory services. It is therefore necessary to ensure that our Counsellors adhere to a recognised Ethical Framework and are members of a recognised professional body.
Overall, Pathways is providing a much-needed service to people on low incomes, benefits, or those unemployed, who could not afford a private service.