Sunderland counselling service marks first anniversary

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A COUNSELLING service has celebrated its first anniversary.

The Living Way in Sunderland was launched by mother and daughter team Frances Slade and Rachel Hirst.

They set up the not-for-profit service as they felt there was a need for affordable, accessible counselling in the city.

The team marked a year of listening to Wearsider’s problems with a fund-raising meal at Cafe Spice in the city centre.

From its base in Monkwearmouth, The Living Way has helped 35 people deal with everything from unemployment to relationship breakdowns.

They are then asked to make a donation based on what they can afford.

Frances, a major in the Salvation Army, has more than 30 years experience and training in counselling.

She thanked everyone who attended the two-course dinner, which raised more than £700 to help The Living Way continue its good work.

“We shared some of the stories we heard in the past year - people who have gone away after 10 or 15 sessions who feel they have got what they came for,” she said.

“We’d like to thank everyone who came along an offered their support. It was a lovely event.”

Hendon mother-of-two Rachel, 30, works as a trainee counsellor at the service, which was set up with funding from grant-giver Awards for All.

The former nursery nurse decided to go back to work after bringing up her sons, aged six and eight.

Also part of the team is University of Sunderland graduate Andy Wright, from South Hetton.

The 46-year-old has already worked as student counsellor at Durham University, and volunteered at North East Counselling Services.

Although the three are all Christians, they will offer a friendly ear to people of all backgrounds, as well as faith-based counselling.

The service, based in North Sands Business Centre, welcomes self-referrals but also hope to forge links with local GPs.

Deputy Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Stuart Porthouse gave a speech at the anniversary dinner.

He said: “The greatest challenge for the Living Way over the months has been has been the securing of funding.

“The Living Way is a not-for-profit registered charity offering affordable and accessible counselling to those who need it most.

“Many of the clients are financially challenged; some make a small contribution, others cannot contribute; however, all have received the same professional service.”

He added: “I am sure today is the first of many great milestones and that you will have many more birthdays in the coming years to look forward to.”

For more information on The Living Way, call 0773 863 4877 or 0751 149 5057, email thelivingway@hotmail.co.uk, or visit www.livingwaycounselling.co.uk.