Wiltshire received over 90 referrals in 2019 mostly from the Salisbury and south Wiltshire area but also extending westwards towards Bath. Most of our referrals come from schools but also GP practices, children’s social services and other voluntary organisations such as the NSPCC. About 60% of families take up our offer of therapy and we have noticed a steady increase in the complexity of the cases over the last five years so we will always try and signpost to other services if we are unable to offer help through FCTW.
The average age of children referred to us in Wiltshire is 10.5 although we see young people up to age 18. Most referrals are of children who are struggling with several problems at the same time: anxiety due to family dysfunction or breakdown and peer problems at school are very common. In addition, many children are exposed to domestic abuse and this can have a very negative effect on their functioning. Bereavement and family illness also feature commonly in the reasons why children struggle to cope. The combination of these difficulties can overwhelm a sensitive, anxious child.
We try to make training a high priority and in 2019 we provided a study day for parents and professionals on managing anxiety in children with autism. This was very well received and made us aware of the huge need in schools for more skills training for teachers and support workers. We are currently exploring how much interest there is from local schools in an ongoing training package.
Our next training day, planned jointly with the Soroptomists later in 2020, is on the impact of social media on body image in young people and we anticipate a high level of interest from parents. One of our speakers is a local sixth former who will be presenting a video she has made on the topic and we hope this will stimulate lively discussion.
We also provide regular safeguarding training days.
We have continued to raise funds from a variety of sources and were delighted to receive a generous cheque from St Thomas Church in Salisbury as part of their Christmas Tree Festival in which FCTW was one of their main charities. Salisbury Area Board has recently agreed a grant which was strongly supported by the youth panel who initially approved it. They recognised what a major issue young people’s mental health is both for themselves and their peers. We are hoping to involve more young people in the development of our services in future.
We place great importance on liaising closely with other organisations developing services for children and families, both statutory and voluntary as part of the network of care available. We are a member of the Wiltshire Children and Families Voluntary Sector Forum and are closely linked to Wiltshire Community Action.
We are always happy to visit or meet organisations and tell you about our work.
Dr Alison Sankey
Chair, Wiltshire Family Counselling Trust