A local charity supporting the mental health of families has been able to extend its’ reach thanks to a grant from The Chester Bluecoat Charity. Platform for Life were awarded £19,000 per annum, over three years, to expand the reach of their vital services by funding 6 counselling or play sessions a week.
Based in Chester, Platform for Life offers free support to families with low incomes in Chester who are struggling with mental health issues. Receiving no statutory funding, they are only supported by grants from other organisations, such as The Chester Bluecoat Charity.
The grant has made a phenomenal impact on the lives of those who have used the service in the two years it has been in place, with one young user commenting “counselling helped me find myself again.” Education of service users has improved, with one school commenting that children had ‘more confidence and were able to focus more in class after having spoken privately with an impartial adult counsellor at Platform for Life.
Platform for Life recently created a self-referral service route for teenagers at a Chester high school. This enabled young people to access the service directly, which was fundamental to those who felt they couldn’t share their struggles with their parents, school and GP. In total, 18 young people have accessed the service this way, attending an average of 9 sessions each. Positive feedback was shared by both the school and pupils, who felt more autonomous and in control of how, and when, they accessed mental health support.
Platform for Life aims to help build more nurturing and stable family environments, that will empower children to develop in a healthier way, leading happier and more fulfilled lives. A mother who recently used their support was suffering with anxiety and depression following a long history of abuse which began in childhood. Another parent who has been receiving therapy from Platform for Life commented “counselling has been life changing for both me and my family.”
The service is filled by those referred from schools and medical centres, as well as self-referrals, in Blacon and Lache. With a clear link between poverty and poor mental health, these two communities in Chester were chosen as they fall within the bottom 10% on the index of Multiple Deprivation. Their client group has experienced many life challenges that involve some form of trauma (often in childhood) such as domestic abuse, missing parents and neglect. During Platform for Life’s last financial year, they offered 3,172 therapy sessions to 302 clients, meaning a further 1,200 family members have been impacted by their service.
Platform for Life stated “There’s an inextricable link between poverty and poor mental health. It becomes a vicious cycle, as poverty increases the risk of mental health problems and poor mental health leads to employment difficulties and a lower quality of life. Once established, and without being properly addressed, mental health problems can go on to have detrimental effects on people, leaving them disadvantaged throughout their life. If they then go on to have children, the cycle continues into the next generation.” They aim to break this circle by offering priceless help for those who have slipped the mainstream net and can’t afford private therapy.
Counselling provided by Platform for Life has also eased the strain within busy doctors surgeries, with one medical centre saying they have seen “reduced demand on GP appointments following patient referrals.”
The Chester Bluecoat Charity supports organisations that aim to address poverty, inequality and disadvantage within the city. The charity is delighted to support those that work tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people. Mental health issues are rising in our young population, with Place 2 Be stating 1 in 6 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem, which is likely to continue into adulthood. Demand for Platform for Life’s services has continued to grow, with 58% more referrals received this year compared to the previous year, demonstrating just how vital their work is.
Click here to find out more about Platform for Life and the essential work they do.