Prince Philip Trust Fund is quick to help

The Prince Philip Trust Fund has responded quickly to our appeal for help in delivering web counselling to families in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At its recent online meeting, chaired by the Earl of Wessex, the Trustees awarded our charity a grant of £1,000 towards professional counselling for residents in need, living in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Relate MTB is providing web counselling to new and existing clients to ensure continuity of our support to local couples, families and individuals, during the lockdown restrictions.

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director said: “We are very grateful for the quick response from the Earl of Wessex and the Trustees of the Prince Philip Trust Fund, who continue to recognise the importance of our role in the local community. It makes such a difference to the help we are able to provide to local people who are vulnerable and in need of our counsellors’ skilled support in this current crisis.”

The sudden change to our normal lives, routine and access to our usual support networks being cu-off has added to the stress that the pandemic has caused. One of our counsellors, who is delivering web counselling, explains: “As a nation most of us are experiencing sudden, unplanned endings (exams cancelled, work furloughs, loss of contact with family, or institutions of work and social networks, as well as bereavements).  The switch to webcam counselling means that our sessions don’t have to be another unplanned ending that could exacerbate relationship difficulties. Where possible, webcam sessions can offer a safe space to talk about the impact of the pandemic on all areas of life.

“If clients needed Relate before the pandemic, then they most likely need Relate even more in the current situation.”

How to book your appointment: https://relatemtb.co.uk/contact/

Shanly Foundation helps us provide funded assessments

Thanks to a grant from the Shanly Foundation, we are able to offer a limited number of free initial counselling assessments to local couples, families and individuals struggling in the Covid-19 lockdown.

The charitable organisation stepped in quickly with a £1,000 grant in response to our request to meet the demand for our professional web counselling.

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director, said: “The combination of emotional and practical uncertainty, financial pressures, sickness, bereavement, living in a confined space and lack of external contact is creating intense mental and emotional stress for the most vulnerable people in our communities. An increasing number of people need our support now and will do so for some time in the future as the immediate and long-term effects of such stressful circumstances play out.”

“On behalf of our counsellors and our clients, I would like to thank the Shanly Foundation for such a fast response to our request for help.”

For further details about booking an initial assessment, see our contacts page:

https://relatemtb.co.uk/contact/

Rapid response to provide frontline counselling

The National Emergencies Trust (NET) has stepped in to help us deliver much-needed counselling during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A £3,000 was awarded via our long-term supporters Heart of Bucks in response to our fast transfer to web counselling to continue helping local vulnerable people under huge pressures in the Covid-19 lockdown.

Fiona Green, Centre Director, said: “The speed of the response to our request for financial assistance to continue delivering our vital service has made such a difference at a time when we are under pressure to continue delivering counselling to local people.”

“This grant will enable us to continue to deliver reliable, direct help to local people through quality, professional counselling including relationship therapy, family counselling, couples therapy for depression, funded counselling for cancer patients and survivors and psychosexual therapy as well as bereavement counselling.”

Demand for our web-counselling is increasing each week as the lockdown restrictions impact on relationships that are already under strain, or puts new stress on people who are forced to spend long periods of at home together, often with young children, with little or no access to their normal support network.

You can find out more about how counselling can help you on our services page:

https://relatemtb.co.uk/services/

Death of our President Tim Brooke-Taylor

We are devastated that our wonderful President of many years , Tim Brooke-Taylor died at Easter – a victim of coronavirus.

He has been the most loyal supporter of Relate MTB, and we can’t imagine life without him.

At this time of great sadness we all send our love to Christine and their sons Edward and Ben and family and friends

Relate MTB Interview on BBC Radio Berkshire

Big thanks to our Counsellor Pamela for a great interview on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday (30/03/20), speaking to Bill Buckley about relationships and how to cope in the current situation.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p087fr92 The interview takes places 2 hrs 36 minutes into the mid-morning programme and lasts for approximately 10 minutes.

Listen to Pamela’s reassuring words on how to get through this time in isolation as a couple and a family.

Pamela was asked if it’s OK for couples to be ‘bumbling along’ during this period and she answered “bumbling along is not a bad way to approach this.  Being flexible, being kind and not to allow things to get on top of you could be a way through this”.

Pamela talked about “Being stuck in the house together – try to give each other space, you don’t have to be in the same room together all of the time”.

During the interview Pamela draws out some of the positives from this situation and shares with the listeners “This time could give couples and families the opportunity to re-discover one another as there’s real potential here for relationships to be expanded not diminished”.

Pamela shared that our counsellors have upskilled and are offering counselling sessions via web cam “we are working with couples whose relationships are already under strain, Relate MTB are open and ready for new clients”.

Relate MTB are offering web-counselling during the Covid-19 restrictions, continuing to provide counselling sessions to couples, families & individuals using a secure & confidential, easy to use online platform, so do not hesitate to get in touch through the contact page on our website or by emailing enquiries@relatemtb.co.uk Our counsellors will also be sharing advice to help your relationships through these stressful times so please share this post to reach out to our community: https://relatemtb.co.uk/

 

 

How to talk to children about coronavirus

A counsellor explains how to keep kids informed without worrying them more.

For many adults across the globe, the threat of coronavirus is the most pressing issue at the minute – one we really can’t get away from. While we have rolling news channels and social media feeds to keep up constantly abreast of the latest developments, our children aren’t quite so in the loop. That doesn’t mean, though, that they aren’t aware of the distressing situation, or that they don’t have concerns of their own that need working through.

Talking to children about coronavirus might seem hard when it comes to knowing what’s best to say, how and when. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s important that conversation happens. Here, Peter Saddington, a counsellor working for Relate in The Midlands, shares his advice for keeping children informed while always reassuring them.

How informed should you keep your child?

How informed you choose to keep your child does depend on the age and their age and nature, according to Peter.

“Not every child is growing up in a household where everything has been normal up until now. If they’ve had a parent, sibling or grandparent who’s died they might be more anxious than a child who’s never experienced anything like that. It’s got to be unique to your child and your circumstances.

“Children will be hearing about things, though, and they will be worried about it.”

Peter advises asking children what they’re worried about and what they actually know.

“Start by asking them how they are. Ask if they’re worried about the virus and check what they’ve heard in case it’s not accurate.

“You’ll make them more worried by not talking about it, so it’s better to talk about it. Showing empathy is important, too. It is scary times and something people worry about, so it is about explaining to children the normality of being anxious or worried about not knowing all the information or what’s going to happen

“You can start explaining the facts and dispelling myths to reassure them. One of the facts that’s out now is that children generally recover very quickly from it,” Peter said.

“If they’re much younger you might say: ‘It’s not a nice illness, it’s unlikely you’ll catch it, and there are things we can do to protect you.’

“If they’re older and able to understand then it’s saying: ‘This is something lots of something people will get but there’s a lot we can do to protect ourselves against it, it’s a bit like flu or other serious illnesses that have been around – lots of people get it and lots of people recover from it.’”

How to approach the conversation

“If your child is worried or comes to ask you questions, that’s the best time to talk about it. If they’re worried and they brought it up – don’t put them off. If they’ve brought it up it’s because they’re worried,” Peter said.

“If they haven’t brought it up but it’s being talked about, then I’d make a point of turning the telly off, making sure there are no distractions and saying: ‘This virus is being talked about, is it a good time to talk about it now? You and I?’

“I’d do it not when it’s close to bedtime, you don’t want them going to bed worried. Do it during the day, when there’s plenty of time for thoughts to percolate through and if they have more questions later on, they have time to ask.

“In terms of setting, you’re much better doing it at home if you can rather than while out shopping or when you’re driving, because you can sit down, see the child’s response, see whether they’re getting agitated or if they’re looking really worried. If you’re doing it while you’re driving or somewhere else, you won’t necessarily pick up on those cues so your child will still be worried about it,” he said.

“You want to be factual, and you want treat it seriously. You want an ordinary level tone, you don’t want to say: ‘Everything’s going to be dreadful’ or ‘Everything’s going to be fine.’ Your child knows neither of those is true, you’re better to just be factual but be positive. Tell them that provided we’re careful and wash our hands, we should be okay.”

Talk about social media

“Tell your children that if they’re worried about things they’ve seen on social media, they should come and talk to you. And secondly, if someone contacts them on social media because they have the infection or they’re worried about something, they should come and talk to you rather than feeling they’ve got to take responsibility for someone else.

“All the time it’s: ‘Come back and talk to us.’ You’re making it so your child feels they’re not going to be treated as though they’re silly and you’re not making judgements about them. You’re on their side and will listen to what they have to say, so they’ll come and talk to you about what they’re worried about which is a much better place to be than children keeping it quiet.

How much should you tell your child about your worries?

“The adults need to deal with the adult things, and the children shouldn’t be involved in doing that. If you’re worried about your parents, their grandparents, you could mention to your children: ‘I’m a bit worried about Nana and Grandad – we might need to spend a bit of time with them.’ You wouldn’t be talking about your fears the health service isn’t working because you’re going to give them fears they won’t understand or know how to deal with. As much as possible, you don’t expose children to adult fears and anxieties,” Peter advised.

How to help a child who’s really worrying

“Sit them down, ask what it is they’re actually worried about. Quite often it’s misunderstandings more than anything else. Once you know the actual worry they’ve got, you can go through what’s real and what’s not real and make sure they do know the facts.

“It’s a bit like a cracked record, you just have to keep offering reassurance. The likelihood is that they’re going to be worrying about parents dying (in which case they’d be abandoned) or that they’re going to become really ill and they’re not going to recover.

“Talk to them about the eventuality of them becoming ill – tell them you’d look after them and that there’s medical support out there. And if they’re worrying about you, their parents, tell them you’re looking after yourself and keeping yourself safe. Tell them that even if something were to happen to mum or dad there would always be people here to make sure they’re okay. Keep reassuring them that everything’s going to be okay.

“Parents don’t know that for certain, but if children are worried, don’t give them any other anxieties,” Peter said.

Don’t be hard on yourself

“As a parent, you just have to do as well as you can. There’s no perfect way of doing it. There’s no judgement made against it. You’re doing the best you can, sometimes you’ll get it wrong, a lot of times you’ll get it right. If you feel you need help, make sure you do speak to partners, friends, parents to get the reassurance you need,” Peter said.

“These are unique times, we haven’t got much of a history we can look back over the past 20 or 30 years where other people know what to do. So everybody is anxious and unsure about what’s going to happen. What generally helps when you have worries is talking about it. You won’t necessarily get all of the answers but by doing this you put your worries into a more realistic frame. When you start saying it out loud you realise how much of it is just anxiety.”

Be prepared for more change

“Things are going to change, for instance if schools close. You’re going to have children at home, away from their friends. Children will probably be using social media much more because they’re going to be bored and want contact with their friends during that time,” Peter said.

“You might want to make it a daily check in, asking: ‘How are you and your friends?’ so that you can keep on top of what’s going on. If there are any underlying fears or worries it comes out more naturally.”

Coronavirus: how to self-isolate and not fall out with your friends and family

Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak is leaving many of us feeling anxious about reducing social contact and self-isolating, and what that could mean. Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through this time but healthy relationships tend to need space and outside interests to thrive. As we’re being told to reduce social contact dramatically and as more of us need to self-isolate, this is likely to be tricky, putting our home life under added pressure.

Talk about your feelings

Staying at home may leave you feeling worried about all sorts of things like getting paid, how older relatives are coping and being plain bored. It can really help to talk about your concerns together.

You might choose to start each day with a quick wellbeing check-in. That way everyone knows how others are doing and can consider this when around them.

It also helps to limit the amount of time you spend discussing coronavirus, so you focus on other things. Of course, if one of you has symptoms but others don’t, it will be important to follow government guidance when doing your check-ins to decrease the chances of passing the infection on.

Be considerate

When somebody expresses a concern about coronavirus, or any other issue, listen to them and try to understand how they’re feeling. Avoid saying things like “you’re over-reacting” or using catastrophising language which could raise other people’s anxiety levels. If somebody is ill or is anxious about coronavirus, avoid bringing up other tricky issues unless really necessary. If somebody is worried, listen to their specific concerns and research the facts together. Do consider the ages of your children when choosing what to discuss with them.

Use technology to keep in touch

While you won’t be able to visit friends or hang out in public places during self-isolation, it’s still possible to keep in touch thanks to technology. Video calling friends, relatives and colleagues is about as close to face-to-face interaction as you can get in these circumstances. Consider picking up the phone for a chat where you may have otherwise sent a message.

If you’re getting frustrated with others in the house, it might be an idea to share how you’re feeling with a friend. This will increase your sense of involvement with others and may help to make the situation at home feel a little less claustrophobic.

Pause before you react

The reality of staying at home with others for days on end is that somebody will probably do or say something to annoy you at some point or you could of course do the same to others. It could be something simple or it could be related to existing issues between you and another family member that have been brought to the surface by current concerns.

Bearing in mind staying at home so much may be stressful in itself, try not to “react” to what might seem like a careless comment or perhaps implied criticism of some sort. If something gets to you, take some time out before responding. Even taking some deep breaths and counting to ten can prevent minor differences from becoming major blow-ups.

Choose your battles wisely and try and weigh up if, for now, the most important thing is to support each other to get through these tough times rather than creating further tensions about something that is perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, not that important and could wait until there’s a better time to discuss it.

In these challenging times, making the most of every form of support will be essential.

In the same way that keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues will be important, if you feel like getting some extra relationship support might be a good idea, Relate MTB offers web counselling via Zoom.

Relationship problems during Covid-19 isolation

Relate MTB is open for web-counselling during the Covid-19 restrictions and our team of professional counsellors have put together essential tips to support your relationships during the isolation period.

We are continuing to provide counselling sessions to couples, families and individuals using a secure and confidential online platform so do not hesitate to get in touch through the contact page on our website or by emailing enquiries@relatemtb.co.uk 

Follow our Facebook page for more tips from our counsellors.

Advice from Relate MTB

Things were bad enough before! If your relationship was under strain already, understand that being together in the same home may bring problems to the surface. Our relationship counselling via webcam could help you work through things, email enquiries@relatemtb.co.uk for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

‘We can’t stop arguing!’ – if you have been arguing over a particular issue, consider calling a truce during this period to make living under one roof more bearable. The chances are you are spending a lot more time together than ever before and that can be an additional strain as well as a benefit. The National Relate website has tips on how to deal with arguments.

Feeling overwhelmed – these are really tough times and it is OK to feel overwhelmed, frightened for those you love and anxiety over what the future holds. Try to understand that you and your partner may have different worries and priorities. Set aside time for cosy and calm chats, agreeing that you can talk honestly about your worries, acknowledging that you each may have differing priorities at this time. Pick up the phone to supportive friends and family and share your feelings for mutual support.

Struggling to adapt to the new routine – whether you live alone, as a couple or with your children these strange times feel uncertain for everyone. Have an open discussion about how your new routine is working for each person, remembering to listen as well as to talk, and encourage each member of the household to have their say, without judgement or criticism. Agree to re-visit the discussion after a few days or a week. Taking your exercise separately can give you time to yourself.

Your new working environment – working alongside each other in close confinement, perhaps for the first time, can be an opportunity or a challenge. We may act differently in our normal work environment to the way we behave at home. Your hours might be different, so be careful to respect times when your partner is working and you are not. Discuss between you whether you prefer to assign one room as the ‘office’ or use separate rooms, keep the topic open and be flexible about trying different arrangements to find one that works well for you both.

A busy working-from-home office – if you have adult children working at home it can be quite eye-opening to witness their professional persona, an opportunity to find a new respect for them. Try not to eavesdrop if possible and avoid judging or criticising them in their work but do remember to express praise and admiration in general terms.

How are your juggling skills? Teacher, parent, worker, housekeeper, carer, cook! It is difficult to think of more stressful circumstances than at the present time. Every day we are expected to juggle so many demanding roles and all the while cooped up together and without external help. Don’t have unrealistic expectations, be flexible and be kind to each other. Share roles and tasks, build in breaks for yourselves and grab time to relax together when possible.

Keep communicating – don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling, to each other and to trusted friends and family. There is so much help available online from professionals who understand and can support us all in through this difficult time. The feedback from our clients who have now transferred to web-counselling is that their experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Email us at enquiries@relatemtb.co.uk for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

More tips from our counsellors will be shared on our Facebook page.

Support from councillors in South Bucks & Chilterns

                                                

 

Grants from South Bucks District Council and Chiltern District Council have supported local residents in accessing vital support over the last year.

Contributions from our Bursary Funding Scheme make up the difference between what local residents can afford to pay and the actual cost of delivering skilled relationship counselling to improve their emotional and mental well-being.

Chilterns District Council awarded a £1,400 grant and South Bucks £1,000 to support counselling costs for residents living within each area.

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director, said: “Relationship counselling plays such an important role in strengthening individuals, families and therefore communities and we are grateful for the support that councillors and their grants teams in South Bucks and Chilterns have given not just this past year but over a number of years.

“In such uncertain times emotional and financial pressures increase, especially on the most vulnerable. Our counsellors provide crucial support, teaching lifelong skills that branch out into every area of people’s lives, improving personal, workplace and social relationships.”

For more information on the wide range of counselling services available visit https://relatemtb.co.uk/services/

 

 

2020 update from Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire

We are delighted to update you at the beginning of what is already becoming a very busy year and to thank you, as a valued supporter, on behalf of all our clients, counsellors, admin team and trustees, for your continuing help.

In a bustling 2019 we expanded not only the services we provide but also the locations where we offer them.

Welcoming the Edward Gostling Foundation to our Maidenhead office with Cllr Phil Haseler, our new Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead representative.

Particular highlights are being able to offer funded counselling for cancer patients, their partners and families – thanks to Macmillan Cancer Care in Buckinghamshire and to the Edward Gostling Foundation and Louis Baylis Charitable Trust in Berkshire, and to the specialist training provided for our counsellors by Macmillan. We continue to apply to local charitable organisations to support this important work.

We also won a contract to deliver part of the ‘Parenting Together Support Programme’ funded by the Department of Work & Pensions. Working in a consortium with two Relate London centres we deliver mentalization therapy to reduce parental conflict in unemployed and vulnerable families in the Bucks area.

We know how important it is to our clients, particularly those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, to be able to access local counselling and so we are pleased to now offer new venues in Chalfont St Peter and at Chiltern Hills Academy in Chesham.

We have made a very a positive start to the year by welcoming four Relate student counsellors who have joined the centre on placement alongside their Institute of Family Therapy Relationship Counselling Training. We have also welcomed three new Trustees, including our new Treasurer, Michael.

In 2019 we were very grateful to receive donations from new funders, including the Rothschild Foundation, Edward Gostling Foundation and the WHSmith Community grant scheme. We are very appreciative of the continued support of the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council, Aylesbury Vale & District Council, Heart of Bucks Community Foundation, Macmillan and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Behind the scenes we once again passed the stringent BACP accreditation process and we have re-arranged our admin office to improve efficiency, the working environment of our Maidenhead admin team and counsellors and to improve our service to clients.

These improvements are helping us to manage the significant increase in demand for our services that we have seen in the past four months, fuelled by financial uncertainty and the emotional pressures of Christmas and New Year.

None of this would be possible without your support and in return we would be delighted to welcome you to visit us to hear more about our developing service and to fully appreciate the difference that your support makes.
Please email our Centre Director fiona.greenfield@relatemtb.co.uk

Thank you again for your vital help in making such an important difference to our local communities and to the well-being of local people and families.

Janice

Janice Campbell, Chair, Relate MTB

January 2020