The founder of therapeutic support charity Somewhere House Somerset calls for more mental health support in the region, two years on from the first UK lockdown
The founder of a charity providing low-cost therapeutic services to people in need across the Somerset region has spoken out about the ongoing need for mental health support in the face of Covid-19, two years after pandemic restrictions first came into place in the UK.
Somewhere House Somerset has been providing specialist counselling to individuals and families, as well as educational workshops and community outreach projects, since opening its doors in 2011.
The small charity’s experienced counsellors are specialists in mental health issues including anxiety, depression, stress and trauma, and have experienced a significant rise in demand for their services over the past two years, ever since the first UK lockdown was officially brought into law by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in on 23 March, 2020.
Speaking on the two year anniversary of the lockdown announcement, Angie Clarke, founder of Somewhere House Somerset, told BBC Radio Somerset:
“The number of individuals we are seeing and supporting has doubled during the pandemic, and this shows no signs of slowing down. Since January 2022, we’ve had to close our books twice to referrals which is unheard of for our charity; we are seeing around 130 people a week, we have hired three new counsellors and our coffee and chat events are always very well attended, yet the need is still there for much more support as people continue to come to terms with the effect of the pandemic.”
Angie Clarke, accredited counsellor and therapist and author of self-help book Sh*t Creek to Somewhere Else, believes that even the most resilient of people have been tested to their limits by the circumstances of the past two years, which show no sign of abating.
“Throughout the pandemic, a lot of people have been stuck at home with people they love, but are not used to spending 24 hours a day with, 7 days a week in the same environment. Many have had to work from home without the physical space to do so, trying to juggle family life with their jobs; on top of that, others have lost jobs, seen their physical health suffer or lost loved ones and been unable to say goodbye. “This situation is completely outside of our norm; it’s not what we do as a society and many people have now reached breaking point. It’s been really challenging, and then with everything else happening in the world right now, from the rising cost of living to the war in Ukraine, it’s a tough time emotionally for many at the moment. Professional mental health support and funding in this crucial area is sorely needed to help people navigate their way through these difficult times.”
Somewhere House Somerset, which normally focuses its services around the Sedgemoor area, has now expanded its counselling provision to across the Somerset region in response to growing demand. The charity has just received £10,000 funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to broaden its community impact and make an even greater difference. To find out more about the charity’s work, visit somewherehousesomerset.org or follow on Facebook or Twitter.