Sussex Community Development Association

Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) is a community focussed organisation based in Newhaven. The organisation has a number of different work-streams with the counselling services being based in the Health and Wellbeing work-stream. The counselling services offer low-cost counselling to communities surrounding Newhaven, Lewes, Hailsham and Eastbourne. Counselling Partnership: Support for Survivors of Suicide is run in partnership with Counselling Plus (Hastings, Rye and Bexhill).

In addition to the counselling provision, the SCDA runs a Bereaved by Suicide Outreach service, which offers one-to-one support, advocacy and advice for those who have been bereaved by suicide, no matter how recent or how long ago the loss occurred. There are also regular groups open to those bereaved by suicide which offer resources for coping, a sense of shared experience and understanding. The project operates across East Sussex.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

The project is focussed on supporting people who are affected by suicidal feelings and/or bereaved by suicide. The project works closely with agencies to ensure that timely referrals are made and vulnerable individuals can be contacted by the service asap. This includes receiving referrals of people bereaved by suicide that have come through Real Time Surveillance run by East Sussex Police so that support is offered during the critical early days.

Groups supporting individuals bereaved by suicide are currently run remotely as well as face-to-face. These groups run on person-centred principles with psychoeducational and skills-building approaches woven through. Feedback from group members includes comments such as “listening to the others has put my problems into perspective” and “I started feelings better straight away. I only wish I had done it sooner”.

Individuals who are experiencing suicidal feelings or who have attempted suicide are offered eight sessions of one-to-one counselling. We offer a safe space for individuals to explore their feelings as well as helping them to find ways to stay safe and work on their own resources to help them deal with similar feelings in the future.

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What are your current priorities?

Going through the re-tendering process

The project requires reporting every quarter to the commissioner. The project was funded for six years and while the budget reduced for a period of time, additional funding was secured enabling a full Bereaved by Suicide Outreach service to be set up during 2020 and additional spaces for counselling. The service is currently going through a re-tendering process and we have reapplied and are awaiting further news.

Establishing better links with statutory and voluntary sector health services

While Support for Survivors of Suicide has good working relationships with other mental health providers, receiving referrals and discussing these with health professionals when needed, better links especially at a senior level, will enable smoother journeys for clients, especially for those who are coming to the end of their support from SSOS.

Re-establishing face-to-face services

We will be exploring a return to face-to-face delivery of counselling, building on our face-to-face bereavement groups. We will be taking into account the needs and safety of individual clients and counsellors.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

The clients who come to our service present with ever more complex needs and histories. In order to continue to offer a service to as many clients as we can with the level of trauma, substance use and long term health conditions that they have, we are doing the following: recruiting counsellors who are personally and professionally equipped to work with clients with complex needs, forming good working relationships with health professionals who work with such clients, bringing in training to assist counsellors with their work, working with supervisors to provide additional support and scaffolding within the service and implementing robust safeguarding procedures.

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