S.M.I.L.E Counselling Case Study 2018 / 19
In the last year our project has been deeply involved with various aspects of supporting the local community.
As a service we have now worked directly with 103 Children and Young people in the last year, offering them counselling and support in most cases immediately after they or their referring agency, contacts us. This has in turn allowed us to expand our reach to the children and young people who need our support the most. In addition, it has also enabled us to create new relationships with partnering agencies throughout the county, who we know work with a similar client groups. We continue to work closely with all referring agencies which have allowed us all to provide a more holistic service for each young person.
Moreover, this year has given us the opportunity to deliver information / awareness sessions, to 8 local schools that all chose to nominate S.M.I.L.E Counselling as their chosen charity to do their project on. For this, we visited the schools and spoke with small groups around mental health awareness, signs and symptoms and hidden harms. We also allowed for an open and honest discussion around questions they might not normally ask in school, or at home, such as suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
In addition to this, we have also carried out 6 community outreach information sessions to groups such as Boys Brigade, Macmillan West Lothian and Elderberries Group. The groups also wanted us to provide more information about our service i.e. how we provide support within the community as they would like to support our service through fundraising.
In the last year 2018 / 19 S.M.I.L.E Counselling has been in the fortunate position to be able to support 3 local students studying counselling, to provide them with a placement opportunity. As a part of this, we have also provided the student with educational input, support and supervision and CPD opportunities.
As one student completed their training, we were able to secure funding to offer this newly qualified counsellor a part-time post with S.M.I.L.E Counselling.
S.M.I.L.E has also taken on a volunteer counsellor who is working towards specialising in children and young people counselling. This volunteer has committed at least 1 year with S.M.I.L.E, giving us more capacity to see more clients in the next calendar year.
As a service, we have commissioned an outside consultant to develop a 3 year robust business plan, to look at how we can further develop the service and deliver against our aims and objectives. We want to be able to reach as many Children and Young people in West Lothian as we possibly can, we have now, to date, worked with over 180 children and young people.
Client Testimonial (Jane – 16)
I became aware of S.M.I.L.E whilst looking for support to help overcome my depression and anxiety as they were severely affecting my day to day life. It was my mum who originally contacted them via email to find out if they could help me. Since that first point of contact S.M.I.L.E has been nothing but understanding, supportive and welcoming. Declan replied to my mum the same day she emailed, encouraging me to fill out the referral for so he could begin helping me.
Once Declan had my details I was invited for an initial meeting early the same week. Attending this was particularly difficult as I was unsure if I would be comfortable discussing my problems with anyone. The room they use is homely and welcoming and Declan has always created an atmosphere where I feel I can divulge my thoughts without fear of judgement since I first met with him.
I have attended sessions with Declan weekly where I am free to discuss any topic I feel I need to. At my sessions Declan allows me to lead the conversation in whatever direction I need to help me to process my emotions in my own time. The S.M.I.L.E office is my sanctuary for the duration of my sessions and if I don’t want to talk as much at one session it is reassuring to know there is someone to sit with me when I need it. The great thing about S.M.I.L.E is that they always cater to me as an individual- Declan comes up with ways for me to understand or process my thoughts and provides me with coping mechanisms that appeal to both my personality and learning style. If I am having difficulty with any challenges during the week I know I can always contact S.M.I.L.E and they will endeavor to help me overcome them by speaking to me either by email/phone or by arranging an additional session.
The progress I have made since I started attending S.M.I.L.E is remarkable, I am now able to engage socially and plan to further my education as a result of the work I have done with S.M.I.L.E.
S.M.I.L.E is a safe place to go to not only release my emotions but also to discuss them and, ultimately, move past them so I can live a healthy life. Declan is giving me the tools I need to recover and I have no doubt that without S.M.I.L.E’s support I would not have reached the stage I am at today.
The work Declan and S.M.I.L.E are doing is completely invaluable in my community. They are providing a lifeline for those that need it most and may not otherwise receive it. I cannot emphasize enough the positive impact they are having on myself, and will surely be having on the lives of everyone they are helping.
Parent Testimonial (Son James – 13)
Thought I would drop an email to you because I think you perhaps don’t get too many notes of appreciation and you deserve them big time. It is important for parents of children or adolescents, to understand that this is a vital service and one that nourishes and benefits their children.
After many years of trauma, my son is thriving and making positive steps in all parts of his life since his time with you at SMILE. I would like to thank you for the part you have played in that.
It was a delight on the drive home today. The passenger seat was occupied by a happy, bright, laughing and fun teenager. I was informed that you were cool J
I guess your job may have lots of upset and bits that could perhaps make you feel a bit down. Well here is to the parts that make you feel good and realise it is all worth it.
You are giving my son what looks like hope. Dreams. And possibly the ability to believe in himself.
He has been making headway for a while now, but he is positively changing for the good in front of me. With huge nods at being a ‘normal’ teenager and typical boy, but without so much gloom and despair as there was. Your approach is light years away from whatever else he has experienced.
I am excited for his future now.
Basically, keep doing what you do. Thanks so much for helping my boy. Thanks so much for assisting me in what was a very dark unsupportive world.
All the children / adolescents / teens (and the extended families that it helps) that may have dealings with you are so fortunate. Thank goodness for SMILE!
I salute you!
A Very Happy Parent