Torbay residents who are struggling with their mental health can access a free counselling service during the coronavirus pandemic.
Part-funded by Sanctuary Housing, the initiative – being run by the Windmill Community Centre in Torquay – was initially launched for local trainee counsellors to offer a talking therapy face-to-face.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, committed volunteers quickly adapted by making the service available over the telephone. Local residents can access a trainee counsellor following a referral, with 15 local people already benefiting from the service.
If any clients require further support, a system is in place to signpost to other agencies.
Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, Lynne Roberts, said: “With many people needing more support than ever, it’s fantastic that we’ve still been able to offer this service. It’s proving to be very successful, with the fact that the trainee counsellors are based in the same community as the service users fostering a real relationship of trust.
“We are also supporting employment opportunities for local people by helping the student counsellors to complete the compulsory practical part of their qualification.”
Emma Ellis, project lead from the Windmill Centre, added: “We are all so pleased that we’ve been able to continue offering the counselling service during lockdown.
“The wait times to talk to a counsellor really are minimal compared to statutory waiting times, so I’d encourage all residents in need to get in contact with us.”
There are multiple referral routes to the service, including via housing staff, community groups and through the Torbay Community Coronavirus Helpline, which is available by calling 01803 446022 from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.
The Helpline is also available online by visiting www.bit.ly/torbayhelpline.
Alternatively, local people can also refer themselves to the counselling service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through ‘The Windmill Centre Torquay’ on Facebook.