It is important that our services benefit the men and boys that access our counselling, advocacy and support. In addition to having an ‘open door’ policy for feedback and concerns, we invite clients to complete questionnaires and the SWEMWBS mental health assessment tool.
The below outcomes have been taken from our 2019-2021 Independent Evaluation.
“I now understand the effect that the things which happened to me in my childhood has had on my adult life. In understanding that those things were not my fault, I have come to feel more empowered in taking control of my own destiny.
Having finally acknowledged the shame and guilt I have been unwittingly carrying around for nearly thirty years, I have come to learn firstly of its presence and the devastating impact this hidden burden has had on my life chances by destroying my self-confidence and sense of personal worth, and secondly by helping me to understand that I am not to blame for what happened. This, in turn, has led to me understanding that I can overcome the unpleasant feelings I have had hidden all this time, thereby stopping them from controlling my actions and reactions.
There is a long road ahead of me, but by understanding my demons better, I can tackle them properly, head on. I know now that I am not to blame for much of the hardship life has thrown my way, but I am now in control of what happens next.” – Client
Outcome 1: Strengthened health and wellbeing
Clients report dramatic and widespread impacts on their health and well-being. They note “transformative” changes across all areas of their lives. One stated, ‘I am a completely different person.”
Clients report particularly strong changes in relation to their mental health. They report feeling happier, calmer and less angry, with significantly reduced anxiety. Clients talk about coming through a period of crisis, out of the shadows and into the light. This is echoed in marked reductions in anxiety and depression scores (PHQ9/GAD 7).
Clients report a significant reduction in feelings of guilt or shame, recognising that what happened to them was not their fault. They reported an increased ability to accept negative thoughts or memories and be able to put them in their proper place, rather than feeling consumed by them. In some cases, clients continue to have distressing thoughts or flashbacks, noting that counselling had brought back memories they had previously suppressed. However, they talked about this as part of the healing process.
Clients report far greater insight into their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours; insight that helps them choose the way they engage with challenging situations and other people.
Around half of clients report an improvement in their physical health. This was particularly noted in relation to sleep. Several clients noted that the nightmares that had plagued them before coming to First Step had faded, allowing them to sleep without medication.
These outcomes were echoed by partner organisations who recognised similar impacts in referred clients. For example, 88% of partner organised reported seeing an improvement in the mental health and well-being of referred clients. 55% reported seeing an improvement in client’s physical health. 88% observed referred clients developing better coping strategies.
Outcome 2: Strengthened self-esteem and self-care
For many clients, simply attending sessions regularly signifies a growing commitment to their own self-care and is an achievement in its own right.
These outcomes were echoed by partner organisations who recognised similar impacts in referred clients. For example, 89% of partner organised observed that referred clients feel better about themselves. 88% of partner organisations observed that referred clients take better care of themselves.
Outcome 3: Strengthened empowerment
Clients also report significant increases in their feelings of confidence and empowerment. They report finding it easier to engage in day-to-day life, including coping with challenging situations. They report having a different outlook on life and a greater sense of clarity. Clients report being more able to express their feelings and have the confidence to speak up for themselves. As a result, clients talk about having a greater sense of optimism and hope for the future. They feel more able to move on and live their lives.
Outcome 4: Strengthened safety
Clients reported some impact on their safety. This included feeling more able to stand up to bullies in their current lives. Clients noted a reduction in self-harming and substance misuse. Particularly powerful comments were noted by clients in relation to a reduction in suicidal thoughts. Several clients noted that, without First Step, they would no longer be here.
These outcomes were echoed by partner organisations who recognised similar impacts in referred clients. For example, 77% reported that referred clients have reduced substance misuse and/or self-harm.
Outcome 5: Strengthened support networks
Clients reported changes in their relationships with others. This centred around a greater ability to trust others and express themselves. Clients reported fewer family arguments and happier family lives. They reported feeling more able to have difficult conversations with family members and to see things from the other person’s point of view. Clients reported that they felt more confident to engage in new relationships. Many clients talked about an increased ability to talk about their past experiences with loved ones, strengthening relationships and reducing feelings of isolation.
These outcomes were echoed by partner organisations who recognised similar impacts in referred clients. For example, 77% reported that referred clients have healthier relationships.