Counselling for Social Change was set up in October 2012 to provide counselling to activists and campaigners suffering from PTSD, burnout, or other emotional issues that might be impacting them. We also offer counselling to those on low incomes in our local communities.
During this time, we have delivered almost 1700 hours of counselling via face-to-face sessions, phone, skype and through our retreat space in West Cornwall.
Through various generous donations and our crowdfunding appeal in 2013, we have been able to offer this service for free to those working towards social change. However, this funding is soon to run out, and we are looking for a way to continue this work.
"Trauma work is part of resistance. To be effective, we need to be able to support each other."
Activist Trauma Support
Through personal experience, the experiences of friends and the excellent work 'Activist Trauma Support' did to raise the profile of activist mental health, we realised how difficult it was to access sympathetic mental health support as activists or those involved in social change.
Accessing support can be difficult when therapists pathologise radical politics, or write off our experiences with undercover police or police harassment as paranoia.
In addition, most therapies available on the NHS are CBT based, meaning they focus on short term behavioural solutions without looking at long term underlying causes or problems. They can stem the wound, but for most people, they will never heal it.
Furthermore, as the government pushes more and more mental health support towards employment and job centres, it is clear they value being a cog in the capitalist machine far more than actual good mental health.
As these initiatives gain momentum, the need for independent services, not reliant on state funding becomes more and more necessary. Our mental health outcomes are not tied to working 9-5, but on leading fulfilling, meaningful lives.
In contrast, Counselling for Social Change offers longer term, 'Person-Centred' counselling. Person-Centred counselling is based on the belief that we are 'experts in our own lives' and that sometimes we just need some support and time to find the solutions to our problems. Counselling for Social Change provides a non-judgemental, non-heirarchical, empathic and confidential space to find those solutions.
Where does the money go?
Presently, all the counselling done by CSC is done by volunteers. Our counsellors are either qualified professionals or doing their placements during the last year of their level 4 diplomas. We operate on a shoe string, and the money raised just covers the costs of clinical supervision and insurance.
Our sessions cost about £10 per session. This is broken up (approximately) as follows:
- £3.25 for clinical supervision
- £2.00 for insurance
- £3.50 for administration costs
- £1.25 volunteer expenses and other costs.
But, £10 per session is only possible because all of our counsellors are volunteers who are happy to give up their time to work with CSC because they believe passionately in our mission and ethos. However, we also have a waiting list, and there are only so many hours our counsellors can provide for free.
Volunteering is good but a Living Wage is even better
Therefore, with this round of funding, we are trying to raise enough money to pay our counsellors the living wage of £8.25 an hour for at least some of their work. This will enable us to reduce the waiting list, and move towards a more sustainable model for our volunteers and clients.
Although we provide unlimited counselling, this round of funding will provide up to 26 free sessions for each activist. After this time, people are welcome to continue using our services paying the low cost rates. We want to ensure the free sessions are spread throughout the activist community whilst still providing long term therapeutic support.
We have therefore set different targets for this appeal. If we raise:
- £1000 we can provide 100 hours of free counselling
- £2000: 120 hours of free counselling and pay the living wage to our counsellors
- £4000: 250 hours counselling and paying living wage to counsellors
- £4000+ : Even more counselling, workshops, events etc etc.....
"If we were being systematically tortured by the state, we would protest. Mental abuse is just as important and it is vital to the strength of our actions that we challenge this."
Please support us:
Access to effective and appropriate mental health support should be a fundamental right for all of us. However, the reality is that effective support is becoming harder and harder to access.
Trauma and burnout can affect all of us. It can be one incident which tips us over the edge; it can be an accumulation of years of police violence, the betrayal of finding out friends and lovers were undercover cops, or just the sheer daunting task of the change we want to bring about.
There are no rules on when these events will affect us, and how they will affect our lives. However, enabling effective social change is dependent on taking our mental health seriously, and supporting each other with our mental health problems.