It is high time I circulated a newsletter to the many people who have given us their support in one way or another since we launched the Family Counselling Trust in Hampshire late last year. The headline news is that we are, indeed, up and running and in the first months of this year have taken 28 referrals, many of whom have gone on for treatment with our excellent practitioners. This may not seem an enormous number; but it is critical we gain experience and learn the practical lessons before we accelerate and begin to make a bigger dent in the huge demand in our county for mental health support to children, young people and their families.
Our first step was to set up a pilot scheme with the St Clement’s Practice in Winchester which has proved extremely useful in helping us understand better how to establish effective relationships with GPs and their practices. Soon after that we engaged with the West Meon Practice and are now reaching out to a number of other practices in and around Winchester. You may or may not know that the NHS is going through another reorganisation in which GP practices are being grouped into clusters, each with about 40,000 to 50,000 thousand patients. Our focus at the moment is on 3 of these clusters, which are known as Primary Care Networks (PCNs). These are: Winchester City; Winchester Rural North and East (which runs in a crescent from Stockbridge, round the North of the City and over to West Meon); and Winchester South which includes Twyford. That is about as much as we can manage at this stage, but we have also taken a couple of self-referrals and one or two from further afield so the door is not closed for others.
More recently we established our first link to local primary schools, with a small number of representatives being invited to an event kindly laid on for us by the Harrisons in Twyford. Their enthusiasm was every bit equal to that of the GPs and we have already had our first referral. If the experience of other counties is anything to go by we shall soon see many more coming to us from this source. As with GPs, however, we shall have to expand at a modest pace or risk being overwhelmed by demand.
We are very conscious there are other organisations working in related if not identical ways to help families, and we have already begun to establish links with some of these, including Friends of the Family and Home Start. This is something we shall be developing during the coming year as there are obvious advantages in establishing partnerships.
Perhaps our most critical requirement at the moment is to find somebody who can join our Hampshire Development Committee and take the lead with local fundraising, preparing and submitting bids to grant-giving bodies, businesses and so on within the county to complement the efforts of central FCT fundraising, other initiatives and events. If you are interested in taking on this role – or if you know somebody else who might be interested – then please do get in touch as fundraising is crucial to our sustainability. It should not be unduly onerous. We would also very much like to recruit one or more people willing to organise occasional events on our behalf. Again, not an onerous task but one which makes a huge difference.
Our next event is a Jazz evening with supper at Privett organised by Sarah Webster. This will be held on Saturday, 14th September and full details can be found if you click this link:
It would be marvellous to see as many of our Friends there as possible.
In summary we are delighted to be up and running and plan to expand at a sensible pace over the coming year. Suffice it to say every child who has been or is being helped is a success story; and I thank you most sincerely for your support. Do please spread the word and help in any way you can and if you have any question do get in touch.
Chairman, FCT Hampshire