Continuing our good work

Delivering an almost seamless counselling service, despite Covid-19 lockdowns and disruption, has been made possible by the loyal support of local funders with whom we have built trusting and on-going relationships.

The Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, closely associated with the Maidenhead Advertiser, has been a long-term supporter of Relate. The Trustees tasked with administering this fund understand the needs of our communities and the local charitable organisations on which they rely – such as the expert counselling service that we provide to those in need.

Set up in 1962 by the Maidenhead Advertiser’s founder, Louis Baylis, to secure the independent future of the local newspaper and its role at the heart of its community, The Louis Baylis Charitable Trust is supported by everyone who buys a copy of the paper or takes out an advert.

That is why it means so much to us to have been awarded a grant of £2,000 towards our Bursary Funding Scheme, which means that we, in turn, can also make a difference to our communities.

This grant will help vulnerable local families, couples and individuals, from all walks of life, to meet the cost of professional relationship counselling at a time when the need is growing.

On behalf of all those people, and our counsellors, we extend our grateful thanks to the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust and to all at Baylis Media.

Restructure for a sustainable future

Our Centre Director, Fiona Greenfield, is stepping down at the end of March after 15 years running our successful branch of Relate.

All of us here were very sad to hear of Fiona’s decision but we understand that she has devoted so much time and enthusiasm to creating a thriving local service and now wants to explore new goals. In that spirit, our Trustees are taking this opportunity to make changes behind the scenes to further build our sustainability by formally merging with our close Relate neighbours and collaborators, Relate London North West & Hertfordshire.

We already have very close and trusted working ties, both in training Relate counsellors and contracted counselling service delivery, so for our clients it will be ‘business as usual’ from familiar faces. Our funders and key partners in the community can rely on our continued high standards of service and governance.

For both branches of Relate this is seen as an opportunity for two successful organisations in good financial health to voluntarily become one stronger organisation. We are being welcomed as a great addition to an already well-run and successful operation that will be able to offer more security and opportunity to our teams and ensure continuing high quality local Relate counselling services.

This is an opportunity to join forces and strengthen our position and clients, funders and supporters can rest assured that we will continue to operate in our existing local areas.

Ewan Malcolm, the current CEO at Relate London North West & Hertfordshire, will lead the merged organisation. We have five of our Trustees moving across to the new Board including our chair, Janice Campbell, who will be the new vice-Chair. We will retain our counsellors and support team.

Fiona says: “It has been a great privilege to look after such a fantastic organisation for many years and whilst it will be a wrench for me to let go, I am confident we have made the best move possible to ensure that Relate is around for many years to come in Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire, promoting healthy relationships – never more needed than now.”

 

Thank you GoodGym

Thank you to the fantastic GoodGym volunteers for making a clean sweep of the Relate MTB counselling centre in Maidenhead, clearing weeds, leaves and debris.

If you have passed along Marlow Road recently you will have seen what a fantastic difference they have made, filling an astonishing 15 bags, pulling up weeds that had taken advantage of lockdown to flourish, cutting back the overgrown shrubs and sweeping clean the entrance and drive.

Although we were hoping to be able to welcome back clients in person, the latest restrictions mean we are continuing to provide vital support for local people through our successful web-counselling service.

Thanks to charitable supporters, including the Prince Philip Trust, the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, National Lottery Community Fund and the Waitrose Community Matters Scheme we have a limited number of funded counselling sessions available for those most in need of relationship counselling as the emotional, mental and financial impacts of Covid-19 increase. If you and your loved ones are struggling with your relationship, please get in touch by emailing enquiries@relatemtb.co.uk – you can find out more about our wide range of counselling services here.

To find out more about GoodGym, visit www.goodgym.org

     

For more photos https://www.goodgym.org/reports/trim-and-proper

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.