I am positive that there is not one person reading this that has not heard about the money government is promising to schools in the UK to address Mental Health in Schools and I am sure that anyone who counsels students will agree that calm contented students mean better learning, better relationships with teachers, parents, carers and the wider community.
I know this to be true because I have been supporting students in the Tendring area since 2015 and I have seen these young adults bloom & grow with the right support. So where is the money you may ask?
All future funding for counselling and support in schools was withdrawn by Essex County Council in 2016 despite figures proving the need, meaning I went from being able to support four schools to one.
I am aware as I am sure you are, that there are schools who are lucky enough to have support from charities who go into their schools and counsel and support schools, but they can only do so much and can only provide services governed by funding as I was in 2015.
As a psychotherapist with a specialism in abuse and students who inform me increasingly that they need and want mental health assistance in schools I was appalled by this, but how was I going to make a difference?
How could I go about raising money for this when funding budgets for everything were getting smaller and smaller? I had to, as they say think outside the box, this got me thinking back to the days when I was at school and grants did not exist, but schools still needed things besides the raw materials and with grit and determination we got them, so I returned to the old-fashioned method of self-funding and putting myself out to do something I truly believe in.
This led me back to also thinking about the work I do as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, (IDVA) the work that has seen me in some very dangerous situations, one being where a very disgruntled domestic abuse perpetrator threatened to blow a hole in the heads of anyone who had assisted his victim, yes you guessed I was one of those. Although my dad was very proud of my work this was the last straw for him and he begged me to give up, however giving up is something I do not do so we talked about how I could get out of danger but still make a difference and we hit on prevention being better than cure, but there was no funding for me on my own trying to make a difference, however that was not going to hold me back so I put my skills and expertise as an IDVA into developing and delivering abuse training which has been very successful and has seen me train over 300 fellow professionals in the past year alone¹, any profits from training are ploughed back into Sweet Ways To Stop Abuse, allowing me to be able to go into schools without needing to charge them a fee.
My dad’s suggestion for raising money was to put sweet machines in local establishments filled with Jelly Beans and said he’d help me to ensure there would be no waste as he’d eat any left over…this coming from a diabetic.
Sadly, we lost him in 2014 and he did not live long enough to see me put these plans into action, but I am reminded of him every day when I tell people like you reading this that Sweet Ways exists solely to provide FREE counselling and support in schools to allow our future generations to live lives free from abuse allowing them to “bloom & grow” Any profits from these machines provide funds for petrol and parking.
The students I have not been able to help outweigh the students I have helped, because right now there is me and one other volunteer. Knowing this gave me a determination to find a way to address this and I am pleased to tell you that I have developed a way for schools to set up and maintain self-funding support and counselling units in schools by becoming members of Counselling For Schools In Schools² © there are also membership options for Qualified Counsellors, Student Counsellors, Supervisors, Associate trainers (upon completion of our training) Associate Bid Writers and Associate Fund Raisers.
What I am proposing is a big ask, but you may have gathered by now that not only do I like a challenge I am not a quitter. There are 58,000 ³ state funded junior and senior schools in the UK and it will take the powers that be a long time to decide which schools get funding and when they get it and then those schools will be reliant of future funding to be able to continue so, why not be one of those schools that takes the mental health well-being of our future generations, a priority and what’s more make it a reality by joining us and becoming part of a very exciting and heathy mental health future for generations to come.
If you'd like to get involved or hear more about Counselling For Schools In Schools © you can do so via Sweet Ways To Stop Abuse
Jacqui Kershaw is an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, and a Psychotherapist with a specialism in all areas of abuse. She is also founder of Sweet Ways To Stop Abuse, currently working to encourage schools to get involved in setting up and maintaining self-funding Counselling & Support units in schools.
If you're interested in hearing more about Jacqui's project you can contact her via email.