Counselling for young: Waiting times are slashed
WAITING times for young people to see counsellors have been slashed, thanks to an injection of funds following the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s damning report into child abuse, the head of the Youth Service has said.
A total of £105,000 of public money was given to the Youth Service last year – £60,000 of which was specifically for counselling.
And since then, waiting times to see the service’s counsellors have dropped from six weeks to one.
Mark Capern, principal youth officer at the Youth Service, said the reduction in the waiting times might prevent young people’s problems from escalating and leading to them requiring the help of other government agencies.
Before receiving the extra funding, the service provided 25 hours of counselling each week on an appointment-only basis. Now, after the funding enabled it to increase the hours worked by its staff, it offers 37.5 hours of appointments, as well as on-demand services if there is spare capacity.
Counsellors on zero-hour contracts can now also be called in on an emergency basis if it is deemed that there is an immediate threat to a person’s welfare and a counsellor is busy dealing with other cases.
The service has one part-time counsellor and four counsellors on zero-hour contracts.
Mr Capern said: ‘The whole idea of counselling services is getting in early and stopping a situation getting worse. It is also simply just about looking after someone’s mental wellbeing.
‘If someone is struggling, they can now walk in off the street and get help without having to wait too long. There is no need for a referral.’
Sue Fernandes, a senior youth worker, added: ‘At one point, probably about a year ago, we had a waiting list of six weeks.
‘We now have someone at the centre permanently, so if someone comes in they may be able to be seen straight away, whereas before we only brought counsellors in on an appointment basis.
‘Having so many counsellors gives us a range of people with different experiences and personalities, which is really good in terms of how we match people up. For example, we have one counsellor who has worked for the Drug and Alcohol Service so she has got extensive experience in that – they all have their own specialities.’