20th Anniversary Somerset Stories: In Charley’s Memory

In Charley’s Memory first received funding from us in 2015, and we’ve supported the group with almost £20,000 in grants since they first applied to us for money. The charity provides counselling for anyone over the age of 11 who is experiencing mental health difficulties. We spoke to Grants Manager Jamie Scanlon, who told us more about how their most recent grant for £2,025 from The Somerset Fund in July 2022, is helping their counsellors to deliver crucial support with up-to-date training for their Continuing Professional Development.

“At In Charley’s Memory we support and help children and young people aged 11 to 25 years with face-to-face and one-to-one counselling. What makes our offer unique within our sector is that there’s no limit to the number of sessions we offer; a lot of counselling sessions can finish after 4-6 weeks whereas, post lockdown, we’re seeing clients for an average of around 18 weeks – and it can be up to a year or longer, depending on the support that’s needed. We also run an Ambassador programme in schools where pupils keep noticeboards updated with information from ICM and feedback to us issues that young people are experiencing, giving young people a voice.

In 2021 when things first started opening up again, following the pandemic, we were delivering around 250 hours support per month. Since then it’s increased to over 700 hours per month – the need for help and support has grown exponentially, and we think this is as a result of the effects of lockdown and social isolation. Young people aged between 11 and 20 were heavily impacted and missed out on some crucial social development, which has resulted in much higher anxiety levels.

A picture of Jamie Scanlon at reception, Grants Manager at In Charley’s Memory

Jamie Scanlon, Grants Manager at In Charley’s Memory

We are now seeing more young people with progressed anxiety and mental health conditions, far more than before the pandemic; over half our clients are presenting with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and 7 in 10 people diagnosed with ASD are found to have a mental health condition too. The funding from The Somerset Fund allowed us to bring in an academic from Bournemouth University, an expert in neurodiversity, to deliver training to our counsellors on how to work with neurodiverse clients.

We had been seeing a young client for a couple of weeks, when they received their diagnosis of ASD. With the recent training, funded by Somerset Community Foundation, our counsellor was able to guide and support this young person with their diagnosis, leading to greater understanding for the client of the impact of their condition on their mental health. More importantly this gave them the confidence to talk freely about their diagnosis. Our grant had directly impacted the work of our counsellors and enabled them to specifically support this new client.

We’re supporting 165 young people a week, and at times have had up to 60 on the waiting list, which can mean it could take up to 18 weeks before they’re seen. Early intervention is critical, and there’s such a strain on the statutory resources at the moment. The threshold for young people to receive support from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) is very high and as a result we are seeing more children with complex and critical needs.

With the cost-of-living crisis we’re experiencing, finding money to support our work is even harder than ever. Funding that supports core costs is particularly difficult to find and we have grown since the pandemic, taking on more staff than we were expecting, and operating at a much larger scale than we had anticipated due to an unprecedented level of need.

Core funding such as grants from The Somerset Fund means that we can be confident in our cash flow and it allows us the freedom to plan for the future. We’re extremely grateful for the grant from The Somerset Fund as it goes directly into our work, giving our counsellors all the tools they need to support the young people who come to us.”



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