Counting the Cost of the Pandemic

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

We are very grateful to have received funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, distributed by the Community Foundation for Surrey to help us to support those affected by the pandemic through our range of counselling services.

As a self-funding charity, we rely on sponsored events such as the London Marathon and the money raised by the volunteer team at our shop to help us meet our commitment of making our services available to all who need them.

During the last year we have seen a greater demand on our services, a larger amount of people finding finances difficult as well as regular sources of fundraising disappear. We are so grateful then to the Community Foundation for Surrey for recognising the importance of our work and supporting us to meet the needs of the Mid and East Surrey area.

With clients no longer able to visit our centres, our staff were able to continue meeting via video links or phone sessions. It was a new experience for many but quickly began to feel as natural as meeting face-to-face, with a few benefits thrown in such a no issues with parking and traffic jams.  Clients enjoyed the convenience and the privacy of remote sessions and it worked especially well for those who were moving around or were in a separate location to their partner.

The pandemic brought its own challenges to our health, wellbeing and relationships, some of which we saw immediately in our counselling work, in the news and in published research and surveys. Overnight we experienced changes to our lifestyles, social restrictions and self-isolation, fear about our health, fear about the economic outcome, uncertainty about the duration of the crisis and many job losses. Our family life changed hugely as the home also became a workplace and a school. Whilst many families spent all their time together others became completely isolated as they had to shield or their work meant they had to isolate from loved ones.

For young people, there was a sudden collapse of everything they knew to be safe, certain and stable. Schools closed, exams cancelled, socialising illegal, even the safe hug of a grandparent forbidden. Whilst social media enabled and encouraged connectedness with friends and family it could also be a platform for bullying and feeling excluded and the internet also provided a constant reminder of the crisis.

In many cases these changes exacerbated the difficulties and issues people were already facing; in others it raised new problems. Many couples seeking our support are now at crisis point in their relationship and are risk of breaking up and children being caught up in parental conflict. In many cases our counselling service can help improve communication and reduce arguments. Sometimes it can support a couple to make the decision to end the relationship. For young people they are coming to terms with “loss”; loss of their education, loss of their future hopes, loss of friendships, the death of a relative, or living in economic hardship caused by the pandemic. In many cases they are seeking support for loneliness, anxiety and depression.