Wigan mother and daughter offer free counselling to help during coronavirus pandemic

A mother and daughter have launched a free online support service to help Wiganers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:02 pm

Emotional Wellbeing Group Ltd is offering counselling through a digital drop-in service for people with relationship issues or whose mental health has been affected by the global crisis.

It has been set up by experienced counsellors Anna Palin-Swift and her mum Stephanie Palin, who live in Lowton.

They have secured just under £10,000 from the National Lottery’s Community Fund, as well as funding from Ardonagh Community Trust, to help as many people as possible.

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Stephanie Palin and daughter Anna Palin-Swift

Anna, 36, said: “For the next couple of months, until the end of April, we are able to offer free online counselling. Anyone with relationship issues or mental health issues arising because of Covid-19 can come to our website during our opening times and just click through to a live chat. It’s a text-based 30-minute session with a counsellor. We have six counsellors working across the times we are open.”

The pair, who previously worked with relationship counselling service Relate, were looking to set up their own service in the area when the pandemic began.

And they have seen how much this support is needed by many people.

Anna said: “At the moment there are quite universal issues. There are a lot of people facing isolation, depression and anxiety. In terms of relationships, everything has had a 180 over the last 12 months.

“People are stuck in the house with families, which might make tensions quite high and it might make it difficult to get help with any mental health issues people have.

“There are a lot of financial issues facing our community and I think all that has an impact on how we get along with each other.

“Everyone is affected by that, it’s not just the people in the relationship but the children in the house as well.”

The service currently operates three days a week, with people able to log on to access support, guidance, signposting and counselling from a qualified and experienced counsellor.

People can chat with someone immediately and can access support once or on a regular basis.

The free service means people do not have to face a long wait for counselling through the NHS or even leave their home.

Anna says it does help to talk, especially to a stranger who might be able to assist with seeing things more clearly, rather than a friend or relative.

She said: “Come and try it, come and chat to somebody, whether you want to spend five minutes having a conversation or the full 30 minutes chatting to somebody.”

There is also a range of self-help information on the service’s website, for those who do not necessarily want to access the drop-in support.

Anna is now keen to make as many people as possible aware of the service and the help they can access.

She is already working with Daffodils Dreams and hopes to team up with other Wigan organisations to promote the support on offer, with a meeting planned this week with Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre.

She said: “We are getting a really good response to the website itself.

“We are not getting as many chats through and we need to reach more people. It’s an amazing service and we need to let more people know about it.”

Funding applications are now being made in a bid to continue the service beyond April.

To access the Emotional Wellbeing Group counselling service or find out more, go to www.emotionalwellbeinggroup.uk

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