YiS – Youth Counselling Service is committed to delivering services designed to meet the needs of local young people and in particular excluded groups. We are committed to providing an inclusive counselling environment which local young people can easily access with dignity and free of discrimination. We are a client centred service aiming to put the needs of our users at the heart of our service planning and delivery. We also recognise that as a small agency that there may be times when we do not have the resources to meet the needs of every potential client and that we may have to refer clients on to other services.
Data Collection and Evaluation – Monitoring User Access
We collect demographic data on all clients who access the service including: gender, age, sexuality, employment, ethnicity, employment and disability. This data is reviewed at six-month intervals to assess who is accessing the service and to analyse attendance and drop-out rates. The service also collects feedback forms from clients which often include suggestions for service improvements.
We will review how through our end of therapy questionnaires and other feedback sources we can determine how well we are meeting out clients’ needs in relation to diversity issues.
We aim to recruit a diverse range of counsellors in terms of age, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity, taking into account the diversity of the communities we serve.
Team Continuing Professional Development
We provide CPD on diversity for the whole team, with a view to encouraging reflection around best practice when working with clients from diverse backgrounds and considering factors around service provision which may impact on clients’ experience in this area
The service is aware that young men only accounted for 35% of service users between April 2014 and March 2015. We hoping to recruit an additional male counsellor and develop a stronger referral relationships with the Boys Worker at Brook.
We also offer training around trans issues to all of our counsellors, including courses run by the BACP and Pink Therapy. We are also able to make referrals to Q:alliance’s Trans Youth Group and their specialist workers. Later in 2016 we aim to promote our service to local trans youth via social media and contacts with other agencies.
We are aware that the access issues for young people who are in education, employment or are unemployed may differ. The main issue for employed clients relates to service opening times. A majority of our sessions take place between 4-7pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to enable a majority of potential users access. We also carry out daytime sessions in schools and at the Rivers Adult Education Centre. Our service is free, although travel costs may be incurred. If this may cause a problem we encourage people to let us know and we can try to find a solution. In addition, we are looking at an online service that may better serve certain clients.
Our service data indicate that more than 27% of our users are from non-White English backgrounds which is similar to the percentage of non-White English people in the city (source: MK Population Bulletin 2013/14). However, we recognise that the age group we work with is becoming more diverse, with highlighted growth from Black African, Indian, Pakistani and the ‘White Other’ category. Work to increase awareness of our services to these specific groups will begin later in 2016.
In addition, we recognise that there may be some clients who may prefer to have a counsellor of a similar cultural/ethnic background. Where we are unable to meet these clients needs we can refer on to other local agencies (listed here).
81% of our users say they have ‘no religion’, 15% describe themselves as Christian, 3% as Muslim and the remaining as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Sikh. We review these statistics every six months to note any changes or look at ways to increase engagement amongst religious young people.
83% of our clients describe themselves as straight, whilst 10% describe themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other. The remaining 7% were either not sure, or declined to state. LGB clients who wish to access a more specialised service can be referred on to Q:alliance for specialist LGBT support.
We work with young people aged 11-21, 48% of whom are aged 14-16, with young and older clients accounting for around 25% of clients each. We review these statistics every six months to note any changes and ensure we are fit for purpose.
Our Central Milton Keynes and Moorlands Centre services are fully compliant for disabled access, as are our school locations. All clients are asked about any access issues when setting an appointment and about disability and any specific needs at assessment, this includes physical and learning difficulties.
We are unable to operate a homevisiting service for clients whose disability renders them housebound, but we are looking at providing an online possibility. We can offer information materials in large print where requested. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to provide counselling where signing is required, but we can use rooms that provide a hearing loop with prior arrangement.
We recognise that the word “disability” covers a wide range of issues and with varying degrees of severity. The service also recognises that it cannot competently meet the needs of all disabled clients and that there will be times when clients will need to be referred on to specialist services. We will consult with MK Centre for Integrated Living or the Youth Disability team at MK Council to find the most appropriate referral route for each client.
We have limited resources to publicise services in a number of languages and this is a limitation of our current service that will be reviewed later this year. We aim to recruit counsellors who speak more than one language where possible.
We recognise that this particular group may have difficulty accessing counselling and are unable to provide a creche to ease matters. We recognise that our appointments are limited and can refer mothers on to services and other agencies where appropriate or look at session times and days that may be more accessible. This may also be a client group that would benefit from an online option.