A four nations approach is at the heart of our work. We aim to understand the needs of our members in each nations and reflect these in the services we offer and in our work to promote the counselling profession to decision makers and politicians across the four nations.

Northern Ireland

We're continuing to work with key partners, including the Northern Ireland Counselling Forum, to improve the standing of counselling in the province. This year we have focused on influencing the new Northern Ireland Ten Year Mental Health Strategy. We have also been helping to promote the Community Foundation’s new £10m mental health fund, ensuring our members and accredited services can benefit from this investment.

We're continuing to support the Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) influential 123 GP campaign to increase investment in GP counselling across Northern Ireland as well as challenging the Health and Social Care Board (HSBC) to revise IR35 guidance which impacted on a number of members working in GP counselling settings.

We're strengthening relationships across all the political parties, with members of relevant Stormont Committees, with officials and with the new Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, who is speaking at our Staying Connected Event in September 2021.

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A big focus early part of 2021 was to influence the manifestos of the political parties in advance of the Holyrood Elections in May. We saw BACP commitments across all the main manifestos, including an important commitment from the SNP to further increase investment in mental health support by 25%.

We're meeting with the new Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Minister, Kevin Stewart MSP, this summer to reaffirm the need to extend counselling provision to support vulnerable people and communities across Scotland, in light of the pandemic.

We have continued to build on the lobbying success we had to unlock £80m investment in new counselling roles across Scotland’s secondary schools, colleges and universities by advising Scottish Government on implementation and sitting on various working groups and networks.

We're continuing to build relationships with Ministers and MSPs across all parties as well as playing an active role in the Mental Health Cross Party Group.

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Our focus in Wales in the early 2021 was to influence the manifestos of the political parties in advance of the Senedd Elections. We saw BACP commitments across all the main manifestos, including an important commitment from the Welsh Labour Party to prioritise mental health funding and service redesign to improve prevention, tackle stigma and to promote a no-wrong door approach.
Following their electoral success this has become a programme of government Commitment and we’ll be engaging closely with the new Government to ensure further investment in counselling and psychotherapy to tackle increased need brought about by the pandemic.

We're also continuing to build relationships with the new Assembly members and Committees, as well as working through the All Party Group on Mental Health to hold the Government to account and secure positive change.

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Devolved England

We've focused our engagement this year on the Mayoral elections in Greater Manchester and London, as both areas have enhanced powers and budget to advance mental health in their respective city regions. In advance of the elections in May we held a hustings event with Andy Burnham and the other mayoral candidates in Greater Manchester.

This autumn, we're holding an event in London with mental health leads across the city and representatives of the Mayor, Sadiq Khan. Over the course of the year we'll be engaging with the elected Mayors in Liverpool and Cambridge and Peterborough, as both areas are seeking to secure similar health responsibilities to Greater Manchester.

To further extend our influence in the devolved agenda we’ve joined the Health Devolution Commission (HDC), chaired by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and former Health Secretary and a range of former Health Ministers including Sir Norman Lamb, Alistair Burt, Stephen Dorrell and Phil Hope. We're keen to use this to strengthen our call for greater investment in community-led counselling provision to help provide more accessible support for people and communities most affected by the pandemic.

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Read our latest updates in Policy news, Winter 2021

If you would like to find out more about our four nation strategy, please email steve.mulligan@bacp.co.uk