2018 has been a busy year with more women than ever with significant mental health problems being seen by our therapists for one-to-one and group therapy.
Increasing numbers are also benefitting from our charitably funded ‘wrap around’ complementary therapies and community support.
The ‘MeToo’ movement has helped women to see that gender-based abuse and violence, often from childhood, is widespread, that it is not their fault, there should be no shame in talking about how it has harmed their confidence, caused depression and anxiety and limited their lives. Working this through with an experienced therapist in a safe space, in their native language, has helped many women to regain a positive sense of them self, a better understanding of who they are and what they can do, built their confidence and resilience, and enabled them to improve their parenting and ability to function well in the community.
Our clients have been involved in several open evenings for trustees and patrons this year, telling their stories in person, and helping the Centre to develop our services from their experience.
For some who have completed their 1-1 or group therapy there have been art and dance movement therapy sessions, the ‘I AM’ programme, and support to get legal and housing advice, health sessions, and access to volunteering, education and work opportunities.
Their feedback shows that these ‘wrap around’ supports help to embed the work done in therapy, and encourage women in taking greater control of their lives in other respects, often helping their children and wider family relationships.
We use a national outcome measurement tool, which shows again that the results of therapy for our clients are as good or better than NHS providers, which is impressive when our overall costs are so much lower.
We’re piloting a video-based counselling approach so we can meet the needs of women unable, for whatever reason, to get to our offices, and have done outreach work with a homeless women’s hostel and refuge, giving access to talking therapy to especially marginalised women.
Like most charities, we are seeing the impact of years of austerity on our clients’ benefits, housing and health. We give free support to women on benefits level income, but there are more women in poverty who need help with their mental health than we can possibly see at the moment.
The contract we have with our local NHS and Council has stayed at the same level for years, despite double the number of referrals, many of them from the statutory service which can’t provide the sort of specialist help that we give, or from hard-pressed GPs. We are pressing them to increase this funding.
Funding bodies like Big Lottery have changed their criteria, no longer supporting one-to-one work in favour of community groups of various sorts. Our clients tell us how therapy at The Maya Centre helps them ‘get their life back’, and we see women making use of our support to take on volunteering, education and work - we believe we help make it possible for those women to get back into community living, so its disappointing that we no longer have Big Lottery funding for individual counselling.
We could see more women if we had more funds to pay our experienced and dedicated counsellors. We know that waiting lists everywhere are high, more and more charities are now closed to referrals and the NHS is little better. Our Director Tahera Aanchawan spends most of her time fundraising, but trust funds are besieged and businesses hard to tap into.
All our staff, volunteers, trustees and patrons work hard in many ways to keep the Maya Centre growing and thriving. I’d like to give my personal thanks every one of them for their hard work throughout 2018.
We appreciate greatly all the donations we receive from Friends and Supporters, funds coming in on monthly standing orders give a reliable income and flexibility to keep the service going when grants run out. We face a very difficult year.
If you possibly can, please do donate regularly, and a little bit more is always welcome - the cost of a £2.80 coffee a day for a year would pay for 4 women each to have 12 weeks of 1-1 therapy!
Also, when you shop online could you please nominate The Maya Centre to receive the Easyfundraising donations which big stores and supermarkets contribute to, and you can choose us on Amazon Smile. It's easy to do, costs you nothing, and will help The Maya Centre to keep going - for another 34 years!!!
Thanks for all your help in the past and hopefully into the future.
Best wishes for the festive season and a healthy and happy 2019,
Rebecca Harrington. Chair of Trustees, The Maya Centre
Progress of work
We continue to be very proud of the Maya Centre- a diverse organisation which reflects the community that we serve. We have been able to offer counselling in Bengali, Cantonese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu. We have an Irish therapist who offers 1:1 counselling with cultural sensitivity to Irish women in the Irish Women's Project. Just over 50% of our clients are from BAMER communities.
We have maintained our external accreditation from the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapyfor our counselling service, demonstrating to clients, commissioners and funders that they can have confidence in the professionalism of the centre and its staff.
The Maya Centre’s core work continues to be individual psycho-dynamic based therapy for women, where clients can currently receive up to 21 sessions of counselling. Primarily our clients are those who have experienced trauma, gender based violence and/or mental health issues abuse or harm.
We have developed our provision of group counselling, we are now able to deliver the following groups: 36 week counselling group for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, 20 week Black Women's group, a 20 week Art Therapy group and a 16 week Dance Movement Psychotherapy Group.
We worked with 180 women who received 1:1 or group counselling with 60% showing an overall improvement in their mental health.
Our Community Support Worker worked with 80 clients over the year. She supports clients with practical issues such as housing, immigration, poverty and welfare benefit which can be barriers to entering and engaging in therapy and signposts them to relevant organisations, which may also provide wider community contacts after their therapy. Additionally, the CSW facilitated a meeting between Maya Centre clients and local Councillor Kaya Comer Swartz and a visit to the House of Lords by the invitation of Baroness Doreen Massey, one of our Patrons so that clients could develop skills to advocate on issues concerning them.
We also ran a number of non-clinical workshops to enable the women we work with to explore their confidence, express their feelings and utilise techniques such as art, puppetry and dance movement. The " I Am" Project is a structured programme focused on clients developing better relationships both with self and others. It was delivered to 3 different groups over a period of 8 weeks with very positive feedback from clients on the peer support they gained from the programme as well as a better understanding of themselves.
Our Complementary therapies project has become an integral part of the holistic service that we offer to women who are engaged in our counselling service.In order to support both their physical and emotional recovery we engaged the services of three experienced and qualified therapists who offer the clients at the Maya Centre Holistic Massage, Reiki/energy healing and Reflexology . Our clients have typically experienced gendered violence, trauma and/or mental health issues; many have never experienced positive or safe touch. Their bodies have been subjected to violence, abuse and denigration and store emotional and physical pain. Often their physical pain is a psychosomatic manifestation of trauma and remains undiagnosed by the medical professions.
We cannot overestimate the importance of working holistically to address both the psychological and physical pain of women who have been harmed in many ways. Our clients feedback that working holistically gives them a better chance to recover from their damaging experiences. Through engaging with the complementary therapies whilst in 1:1 or group counselling our clients have the opportunity to release their physical pain, improving their ability to focus on emotional issues during their counselling sessions, thereby enhancing the benefits of the counselling and their overall personal recovery.
Emma Humphreys Award
We were shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Group Award 2018
Next year will bring challenges for us as our funding from Big Lottery ends. This means we will have to work harder to raise funding at a time when there is an unprecedented demand for our service. We thank all our supporters from the bottom of our hearts for the continued support. Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful 2019