The aptly named Space4U, Spalding’s confidential listening and counselling service, has celebrated its tenth anniversary in the knowledge that up to 300 people have been helped by its talking therapies.
Space4U was set up by the town’s Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches to provide a professional counselling service available to anyone of any faith or no faith.
Counselling coordinator Frances Garland, a qualified counsellor who trains counsellors at a college in Peterborough, says: “Our counsellors are all members of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and we use a mix of qualified people and advanced trainees.”
Until Space4U opened its doors in a room behind Broad Street Methodist Church, there was little help available for people unable to afford private fees.
Frances says “mental health services really struggle around here” and doctors’ surgeries don’t offer counselling, instead signposting patients to Space4U.
A big advantage of going to Space4U is that clients aren’t rushed into some kind of resolution to fit finite appointments.
To understand is to pardon all, if you understand people the judgement then goes away.Counselling coordinator Frances Garland
Frances says: “If you go to NHS counsellors it’s very time limited but we are open ended.”
Space4U is literally that, a space where you can talk about what is troubling you, a space where you are not judged, and a space where no one is going to tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do.
Frances says: “With presenting issues, depression is common, of course, and anxiety and stress, relationship problems, and abuse ... it all sounds very general put like that and the thing about it is that every single person who comes through the door is an individual, quite different from any other.”
If I were to attend seeking help for a problem like depression, how would Frances help?
“It sounds very little in a way, largely listen to you,” said Frances. “I would try to understand how you feel, not tell you that you ought to take tablets if you don’t want to, and not do what a lot of people will do, which is try to cheer you up. Mostly it’s just listening without any judgement and without telling anybody what to do and it is extraordinarily powerful.”
Frances says tablets, exercise and talking therapies all appear to have about the same amount of effect on depression.
Where clients are willing, they are sometimes asked to draw their problems on a piece of paper or maybe list them in different circles on paper.
Frances suffered panic attacks as a child and believes many counsellors come to the work with personal experience of troubles, which may help them reach out to others who need help.
But she says: “Stress can mean lots of different things and depression can mean lots of different things. It may be that someone has a miscarriage that they have never dealt with (emotionally) or their grandmother died when they were a child and they were never given a chance to grieve.
“I certainly have learned not to judge other people just by doing this job because it is so important no to. I guess I was brought up with very clear ideas of right and wrong – now I believe people do what they do for very good reasons, although it may not work terribly well for them and it may not work terribly well for the people around them. To understand is to pardon all, if you understand people the judgement then goes away.”
• Space4U stops taking new assessments for a month each summer – this year it will be from the last week in July to the last week in August. To get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07982 467720. Clients make an affordable donation for the sessions.