Meet Redthread’s First Ever Counsellor
June 3rd, 2021
Meet Lucy, Redthread’s first ever counsellor based in Birmingham. In this blog, we learn about Lucy’s role and what a typical week as a Redthread counsellor looks like.
Lucy joined the team in February and has been busy bringing Redthread’s first counselling pilot to life. Redthread’s youth violence intervention programme (YVIP) currently operates in three cities, London, Nottingham, and Birmingham where Lucy is based. Our Birmingham team has been up and running for three years but why was it chosen to test the pilot out? Birmingham is home to one of the largest mental health services in the UK, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and the largest of the three cities Redthread operate in. However, as a result of high demand, the provision can be hard to access, and even more so for young people.
“By hiring me, Redthread is filling a gap in supporting victims of violence with their mental health”, Lucy says. At the start of her role, Lucy was involved with setting up the counselling service and its processes as well as embedding herself in the team up until three weeks ago when she started taking on referrals. Her background in integrative counselling and substance misuse has proved instrumental in working with young people through a range of personal difficulties. “So far, the common issues coming up for YP are a range of trauma responses, from flashbacks to anxiety & depression, guilt and substance misuse.”
Often, mental health services offer up to a maximum of six counselling sessions per person but Redthread acknowledges that each young person’s recovery looks different and therefore have no limit to their counselling offer. “Sometimes, I just have a one-off session with a young person but I think it’s great that my role offers young people as long as they need. Longer relational work allows the sessions to be flexible with a person-centred, psycho-educational and holistic approach.”
A week in the life:
Lucy currently works part-time from Monday to Wednesday with Mondays and Tuesdays being her counselling days. Her day starts by checking in with the team to see whether there are any new referrals which only come through the wider YVIP service via the youth workers. Then Lucy has a busy couple of days with back-to-back sessions with almost all of these taking place either online or on the phone, both due to the pandemic and many young people being too unwell to meet face-to-face. Though Lucy looks forward to more in-person sessions as lockdown eases, she recognises that working remotely could be a more comfortable option for some of her cases as they can open up in an environment that’s familiar to them.
“Redthread steps in right from the beginning of a young person’s recovery, normalising mental health and helping them to instill hope, trust and confidence in themselves, and our services. By having a positive experience with us, we give our cases the confidence to access further support in the future should they need to.”
On Wednesdays Lucy joins the rest of the Birmingham team in what they call a ‘team day’. During the day they take part in various meetings and activities including a weekly case management meeting. Lucy supports the team in focusing on their self-care but also collaborates with youth workers as and when to consult her about any cases where there is an opportunity to explore therapeutic interventions. Recently, Lucy facilitated a workshop in emotional regulation and hopes to do more of these in the near future.
Director of Programmes Jacqui Highfield says:
“Having an in-house counsellor means young victims of violence experiencing poor mental health can get help sooner, but for Redthread the value of this role is even more than that. As well as helping young people directly through a small case load, the counsellor role also provides expert advice to members of staff supporting young people with mental health concerns. What this means is that the whole team- in Birmingham but also across Redthread- are better equipped to support young people who are struggling.”
Looking ahead, Lucy hopes her work will continue contributing to Redthread’s impact by working with young people holistically through a variety of useful therapeutic interventions. She’d also like to create more resources that all hospital-based Redthread staff can use for best practice.
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