Party conference season
Labour Party conference
Cesca Kirtley- Paine, our Parliamentary Officer, chaired a fringe event at Labour’s conference about mental health challenges in schools. Convened by the University of Manchester’s policy unit, the panel included Ruth George MP, who recently led a debate in parliament on mental health support for young people, as well as speakers from The Anna Freud Centre, National Association of Head Teachers and the University of Manchester.
Cesca had a constructive meeting with Carolyn Harris MP, a longstanding campaigner on children’s rights and criminal justice who is keen to work with BACP. She has invited Cesca to visit a project in her constituency as well as asking parliamentary questions on our behalf and offered to host a debate on access and quality of counselling and in prisons.
Liberal Party conference
Our Healthcare Lead Matt Smith-Lilley took part in a special round table to discuss building the NHS mental health services of the future at the Liberal Democrat conference. The session, which was led by Sir Vince Cable MP with representatives from a range of healthcare bodies, focused on the mental health workforce, funding and early intervention. Matt used the opportunity to build a strong case for counselling. Sir Vince’s team have since contacted us to ask we provide some Parliamentary questions to help push BACP policy priorities in Westminster.
Conservative Party conference
Martin Bell, our head of policy and stakeholder relations, attended the Conservative conference in Manchester where, with BPC and UKCP, he hosted a lively round table debate around psychological therapies. He was joined by stakeholders from organisations including Barnado’s as well as PPCs and local councillors. Key themes emerging included access, choice and children and young people.
We’ve produced a briefing exploring counselling for people living with age-related sight loss. In the UK, 80% of sight loss happens to people aged 60 and older. The Macular Society’s telephone counselling service provides therapy and signposting to people with age-related macular degeneration. Jeremy Bacon, our Older People Lead, met CEO Sarah Oakley and Suzanne Roberts, counselling service manager and BACP member, to discuss shared areas of interest, how our older people strategy relates to their work, and access to future case-studies.
Review of IAPT Positive Practice Guide
We’re part of a working group, hosted by Age UK and commissioned by NHS England, reviewing the IAPT Older People Positive Practice Guide.
Originally published in 2009, the guide provides information for practitioners, GPs and commissioners on shaping services to reduce barriers to older people accessing therapies.
In the consultation, we’ve emphasised the importance of choice of therapy and the findings from analysis of NAPT data showing similar outcomes for counselling and CBT.
The next meeting is scheduled for October and it’s planned for the revised guide to be published early in the new year.
Find out more about our older people work.
We were well represented at Making Connections in Llandudno, sharing details of our policy and engagement work in Wales.
We were pleased to have Ruth Conway as keynote speaker, who attended on behalf of the Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams AM.
Ruth was introduced onto stage by our CYPF Lead Jo Holmes, who talked about our work to develop school-based counselling in Wales. We’re jointly launching the latest School-based Counselling in Schools handbook with Welsh Government later in the Autumn.
Scottish Government counselling meeting
Our Four Nations Lead Steve Mulligan and CYPF Lead Jo Holmes joined representatives of the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) and COSCA Counselling to lead a meeting with officials tasked with the implementation of 350 new counsellors across Scotland’s schools, a £60m programme of government commitment.
As well as calling for better communication on their progress to counter concerns from our members that Scottish Government weren’t prioritising this activity, we pushed officials to ensure adequate funded supervision and safeguards were in place so existing counsellors could retain their posts.
Behind the scenes, we’ve worked with SQA to develop a BACP-accredited course for people working with children and young people to be appropriately trained, and there will be fair access to courses across Scotland.
We were pleased to introduce Cathy Bell, member of CYPF division and pioneer of school-based counselling in Northern Ireland, who provided invaluable advice to officials.
Children’s Commissioner for England
Jo Holmes met with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office for England in support of its manifesto calling for a CAMH’s school-based counsellor in every school.
The commissioner is keen to secure NHS core funding from the £20bn rolling out over the next five years to part-fund counselling services in all schools, ideally commissioned out to the voluntary sector to provide age-appropriate counselling provision which fits within our CYP core competency framework.
The meeting provided both organisations’ policy teams with a focus to explore potential workforce development opportunities for BACP members in a climate where NHS mental health provision is currently under-staffed and under resourced.
Pop-up counselling project in east London
As part of a ground-breaking young people’s music project in East London, Real Talk was launched to engage the local community in discussions around gang violence.
Hosted by Midi Music, it included pop-up counselling events held by member Glenda Roberts and volunteer counsellors.
Jo Holmes attended and met Wozzy Brewster OBE, Midi Music founder, an ambassador for young people who feels strongly about the lack of youth provision and support services.
Jo continues to liaise with Glenda, who is talking to Lewisham Council about proposals to support future paid counselling in the area.
University counselling service
Building upon research carried out by our senior research fellow Emma Broglia, we’ve been gathering information to showcase university counselling services which use outcome measures pre and post-therapy to capture change.
We’ve gathered information from three services, Keele, Birkbeck and Sheffield University, highlighting consistent good practice of data collection and the benefits this brings to the profession.
Following a visit to the Sheffield service, where they’ve recently changed from using CORE to C-CAPS, they report the software is a better fit for higher education, is user-friendly, cheaper and captures up-to-date trends, as well as providing detailed evaluation reports.
The information will contribute to an awareness campaign linked to gathering consistent outcome measures to help secure counselling services in their institutions.
School-based counselling service
We visited the school counselling service at Bristol Grammar School, where Jo Holmes spoke to senior leadership team staff and young people about the benefits of having an accessible ‘integrated but separate’ counsellor based within the school.
We’re looking to make a short film with their drama department to use as a lobbying tool to secure universal funding for schools in England. Our member Niki Gibbs is the driving force behind the high standards of well-being support at the school. She is keen to share the good practice established over the last ten years, particularly around appropriate boundaries in a school setting.
The senior leadership team are committed to the service and the value it brings to school life, believing every child in England has a right to access a counsellor and that funding should be ringfenced as part of the core offer for all schools.
Find out more about our children, young people and families work
Employment-related themes featured in the September editions of Therapy Today and Private Practice, with Kris Ambler contributing to articles on the employment market and a special feature on consortium building and public sector contracting.
This latter topic was the theme of a workshop at the Private Practice Conference in September. Members have responded well to these developments and we’re finalising a resource pack and online materials on consortia building and public sector contracting.
John Lewis Partnership Working Well Coalition
At a recent meeting of the John Lewis Partnership’s Working Well Coalition, we agreed to jointly submit a response to DWP’s consultation paper Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss.
We have been involved as a campaign partner and co-signed a letter, published in The Times, addressed to Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and Work and Pensions. We’re involved in discussions with the Treasury and, through the coalition, have contributed to parliamentary questions on wellbeing at work.
Meeting our members
Visit to Gloucestershire Counselling Service
Jo Holmes and Jeremy Bacon visited BACP-accredited service GCS sharing information about CYPF and older people priorities and how these can support and promote the work of the service.
Jo has invited GCS to present at the CYPF conference in February. Jeremy is following up with staff developing CPD training on work with older people, as well as including GCS data in analysis of older people’s access to counselling.
Emma Griffiths, CEO, explained the importance of BACP accreditation to the service, which strives to meet and maintain the highest standards, including only employing BACP-accredited therapists.
Emma urged more be done to ensure commissioners and funders understand accreditation as a mark of quality.
She said: “It was a pleasure to have you both visit and it made me realise how important it is to have face-to-face contact with accrediting bodies, even if only occasionally.
“There is so much to cover and I am really excited that we have at least found a starting point here.”