DEMAND for counselling offered by a Christian charity to people on reduced incomes has increased ten per cent since the pandemic. The Northamptonshire-based group is appealing for donations to help it to keep up with demand.
The Manna House Trust, which began 40 years ago as a Christian bookshop, provides counselling to people who are unemployed, or on benefits, or with a low income, in Northamptonshire. It began with just one volunteer offering an hour a day from the basement of the bookshop; now it has 29 trained counsellors delivering more than 250 sessions a month.
The counselling service works with people aged from seven to 85; 41 per cent of clients are non-wage earning. More than half of referrals come from medical sources, 30 per cent are self-referrals or recommended by friends and family, and 19 per cent come from other agencies.
The chief executive, John Nightingale, said: “The increase we have seen in the demand for our services largely reflects the government data on mental health before and during the pandemic. This shows the proportion of adults aged 18 and over reporting a clinically significant level of psychological distress increased from 20 per cent in 2019 to 29.5 per cent in April 2020. Although they fell back down to 21.3 per cent by September 2020, there was a subsequent increase to 27.1 per cent in January 2021; and these ‘up-and-down’ changes coincide with the periods of national lockdown.
“Inevitably, these increases in people experiencing mental-health problems are bound to result in an increased demand for mental-health services on the ground.
”We are very proud to have been able to contribute to the ongoing pandemic effort, but, unfortunately, our funding has not kept pace with this increased demand, like so many other frontline service charities.”
About 5500 people have been helped by the charity so far, and the service’s social return on investment — calculated from savings to the public purse for those successfully helped by counselling — has been estimated at more than £26 million.