Prior to Covid-19 First Step provided only face-to-face sessions.
We are delighted to have survived through the first lockdown in March 2020 and, within 2 weeks, we were able to move all clients who wished to continue their support onto telephone or zoom counselling.
This required a new series of policies and procedures to be put in place to ensure that this transition to on-line would be as tight and confidential as our face-to-face work.
All counsellors and staff received additional training and we implemented new procedures for the storage of data and, with the consent of our clients, this has continued to be offered as a service.
Feedback about our transition to remote was positive but overwhelming in favour of a return to face-to-face work …
“I don’t like talking on the phone, I cannot wait to go back to face to face’,
‘I don’t have anywhere private to really open up in my zoom sessions’
‘I would prefer face-to-face but really so grateful that I have been able to continue with my counsellor although slightly different’
‘I rang in May and I can’t travel into the city centre so zoom is excellent for me’
The Trustees at First Step have made the decision to extend our service delivery into the future to include remote working as this means that we can reach more individuals wanting our support.
Providing face-to-face sessions in a pandemic
During lockdown we got to work in extending the counselling rooms so that we can ensure that we have at least 5m between the counsellor and client and the staff are vigilant on cleaning in-between sessions and at the end of the day.
To help minimise risk we have the following in place:
- Electronic doors
- Hand sanitisers / fogging machine to disinfect at end of each day
- Extended rooms with 5m distance between counsellor and client
- Strict rules about how many people are on site
- Separate toilets
- Masks and face shields readily available
Clients are welcome to come in for face-to-face sessions but this is in strict accordance with safety and we are not able to have all our rooms used at the same time which allows to minimise any risk to individuals.
As a client you may want to wear a mask and that is perfectly acceptable. You may require the staff or counsellor to wear a mask and that is okay too. Whatever makes your experience feel safe we can work with. We will take your temperature before we allow you to enter your counselling room.
Whilst remote working does not work for everyone we are confident that it offers a lifeline to those who may otherwise be struggling to access support.
If you are worried or you have health conditions which make attendance face-to-face impossible at present that is fine, simply let us know your preferred way of working and we will do our very best to accommodate your needs. Remember the service is for you, our role is to ensure that everyone who needs us has appropriate access.
Worried? Don’t be!
We are currently supporting 60 males a week with either face-to-face or remote counselling/emotional support.