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Saturday, 15 June 2013 01:00

The Cuts that Hurt

We are living in difficult times and many have lost their jobs and the Government Cuts in budget have finally reached me yesterday.

I went to my school of several years to be told that my contract won’t be renewed this year, its was a shock, I wasn’t expecting it at all.  I finish in July and my Head Teacher is telling me this with tears in her eyes, she doesn’t want to be giving me this news.

Budgets have been cut and Counselling it seems is seen as an added luxury that they can live without.  There is a CAMHS service but its overloaded to breaking point, it will be many months before kids get seen it’s a familiar story, there is no where near enough mental health services to fill demand.

I too try to hold it together but the tears are starting to form, I reassure my head teacher that I will be OK, I am in a good position financially I have a safety net and I am resourceful. Self employment is a precarious game to play. I have been made redundant several  times as an employed person and although its hard I have bounced back and gone on to bigger and better things. This month is hard because both of my contracts have been ended at the same time, all the eggs in my basket of been smashed but the Governments Axe

It’s not the financial side of things that is so difficult thankfully for me, I can survive on very little I have been here before, these days I have a pound for the electricity meter. It’s the pain of separation the ending of a relationship. Not just the relationship I have with the teenagers I work with but the school itself.

I started in this school a long time ago and it was my first school and experience of working with younger clients. I said I would never work with children but I got asked to and gave it a go. I went on to train as a play therapist because of these children and school and I have worked in many schools now and I find I am able to engage and relate to them like I never thought I would. 

Each Monday my room is full of children coming and going, and all manner of problems are discussed and processed, children dealing with divorced parents, drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, self harm, bullying, exam pressures you name it we have seen it. Tissues and hugs are plentiful in my therapy room.

The thought of not being able to go to my school on Mondays feels heart breaking right now, and I have had to break the news to my clients, many are vulnerable and not in the greatest of places. They don’t talk to their friends or teachers or parents, they have found one place that’s accepting non judgemental and most of all they can just come in charge their phones, Grab a drink , eat their snacks and tell me about whatever they are struggling with.  

That place won’t be there for them next year and neither will I, that hurts and the  tears are flowing right now. I worry how they will cope, I know they will but it still feels really painful to have to say goodbye its hard not to feel I have  let them  down. I know I haven’t I have given them everything I could, to keep them safe and well.

I have thought about offering to carry on working for the school without a salary so the kids have support but I now this is about me not wanting to let go and deal with the separation, wanting to hang on. I also have to deal with my own boredom at not having schools to work in. That will get  filled with marketing activity and working for free isn’t realistic, I don’t have funders and my savings won’t last long enough if I do.

Everyone knows that ending relationships of any type can be sad but ending so many in one go is overwhelmingly difficult, we have share so much together and some clients have been with me for such a long time.  Letting 16 go all at the same time is  especially hard particularly when  we haven’t finished the work and nobody wants to stay goodbye.  I have worked with some for  years, and they have all got a place in my heart as does the school.

I gave my Head teacher a hug and told her I will be OK because I know I will. I have been through much adversity and fought my way through.  When the shock and the grief subsides I will get leaflets out and Max and I will go hunting for more work and more clients to work with, some will find us and we have lost not all our clients we still have some.

We have lost 90% of our clients due to funding cuts in both primary and secondary schools. Its happening everywhere and its not the financial pain here it’s the emotional pain of saying goodbye and letting go.

I will always be fond of my first school and they tell me they want to become an Academy which will give them more control over their budgets. The head Teacher tells me she may come and find me again if that happens as she doesn’t want to let me go either.

So many counselling and support services are folding due to the recession and lack of funding and at a time when mental health issues are at an all time high I find it hard to understand how childrens exams and academic achievements always seem to be prioritised over their emotional well being, but that’s a grumble for another day.  

 We will survive and so will my clients because we do don’t we?.We are human beings with an incredible resilience and strength and our basic survival instincts kick in.

I would like to thank my school and all the clients their for sharing their stories and for giving me the opportunity to work with them and for opening the door to working with children in schools. I will never forget my first school that has taught me so much.

 Thank you for reading my blog and for your support. We have been fired but I don’t think it will be too long before we are hired and start the process all over again. With Endings comes new beginnings and I find it quiet therapeutic to write about my experiences and work them through. My tears are healthy and better to be cried that bottled up.

 Endings will be managed over the remaining weeks of term and if you or anyone you know needs counselling coaching or clinical supervision services.  I know an excellent therapist who is here to help, with hugs and tissues.

I am strong, resourceful, determined, motivated and most of all a survivor and whilst the road gets bumpy everything is temporary and we will go onwards and upwards of that I have very little doubt.

Much love to each and all of you, where ever you are and if your road gets too bumpy you know where I am.

Mel & Max.

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