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Counsellors join fundraising drive for Sudbury-based service Just Talk to broaden access to counselling




More counsellors have joined a Sudbury service’s fundraising drive, to ensure anyone in need has access to therapy, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Just Talk has ramped up efforts to top up its bridge fund – which helps subsidise the cost of counselling sessions for those otherwise unable to afford it – as mental health struggles rise as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Based at the ExploringU Centre for Wellbeing in Station Road, the service has continued to support clients during lockdown, with counsellors providing remote support via Zoom, the online conferencing tool.

Michelle and James Lumley are walking a marathon in support of Sudbury-based counselling service Just Talk. Contributed picture (44464290)
Michelle and James Lumley are walking a marathon in support of Sudbury-based counselling service Just Talk. Contributed picture (44464290)

Michelle Lumley, a qualified counsellor with Just Talk, is now preparing to walk a 26-mile marathon next month to help raise money for the bridge fund.

She will complete the challenge with her husband, James, on March 26 – coinciding with the date that James was in hospital with Covid-19 last year.

Michelle, who has been working with Just Talk for almost three years, told the Free Press: “It’s just a wonderful operation and the common goal of low-cost affordable counselling is one I really value.

Trainee counsellor, Sheila Horton, is contacting businesses and community groups to raise awareness for Just Talk, a Sudbury-based counselling service....Picture by Mecha Morton .. (44450390)
Trainee counsellor, Sheila Horton, is contacting businesses and community groups to raise awareness for Just Talk, a Sudbury-based counselling service....Picture by Mecha Morton .. (44450390)

“It makes a huge difference, having a space to explore and grow and lay your fears out on the table, knowing it’s safe.

“If you’re left not being able to explore a problem with somebody else, it can grow and become something bigger.”

She added: “I have absolutely no experience with marathons. I’ll have to dig deep for this, but I’ve got the passion to support as many people as possible. That’s what will keep me going.”

Michelle is the latest counsellor at Just Talk to set up a marathon fundraiser, with trainees Tim Peal and Louise Barr also preparing to complete their own challenges in March, in support of the bridge fund.

Fellow trainee counsellor Sheila Horton confirmed she is also working on a number of grant applications, as well as contacting local businesses to seek sponsorship and offer bespoke support for their employees.

“I really believe in what Just Talk is doing, offering affordable counselling for anyone who needs it, because sometimes it can feel a bit exclusive,” she said.

“It’s essential. There is a huge need to have people to talk to, especially when the family network is not there during lockdown.

“People are worried and anxious, and it doesn’t matter what your income is – so many people need someone to talk to.

“With counselling, our aim is for people to fund the solutions within themselves and build resilience.

“The clients I’ve worked with have become more resilient and confident. People are finding strength within themselves.”

She added that, in future, she hopes Just Talk will be able to revive its drop-in café, which briefly operated in Sudbury a few years ago, to provide another avenue for people to seek out support when they need.

The service also recently launched a virtual talking hub, taking place on the last Friday of every month.

For more information about Just Talk, click here.

To donate to Michelle’s marathon fundraiser, click here.

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