Sexual abuse victim man hails Epsom counselling centre
A young man who was sexually abused as a teenager has said a big thank you to a counselling centre that helped put his life back together.
John Smith, not his real name, has been visiting Epsom Relate, in Epsom High Street, for one-to-one sessions by its young people’s service, for a number of years.
He was the victim of sexual abuse as a teenager which led to him struggling with relationship and communication issues.
Mr Smith said: "I have got my life back and I want to say thanks to Relate.
"I was having many life issues before going to counselling. I was embarrassed to communicate with people and I didn’t have many friends. Every day was painful.
"But now I have found myself and I have new friends. I don’t have to suffer anymore and don’t have any pain mentally. I am glad I went to Relate.
"I could off-load anything which I felt stuck with during the sessions because I felt comfortable.
"You can’t just get over things and there are people out there who are still victims.
"I have had to learn to walk and crawl all over again when other people don’t have to and start afresh. I’m now enjoying my life."
He is concerned about a shortage of donations for the centre - its main source of funding - and is urging people to support it.
He said: "I don’t want Epsom Relate to close and I want to raise awareness of the fact that they don’t have enough funding. I have to do the same for them as they have done for me."
Janine, manager and counsellor at Epsom Relate, said its young people’s counselling service has grown in popularity and operates in schools across Epsom, Reigate and Mole Valley.
She said funding is an issue, as it has been for many organisations during the recession.
She said: "We started seeing young people for counselling in 2005 and in 2011-12 we have had 2,000 hours of counselling just with young people across Epsom and Reigate, with more than half of these being in Epsom. There is a great demand for the service and there are always people on the waiting list.
"We work by receiving grants and through fundraising, but we mainly run on donations from clients. Due to the recession, donations have gone down and expenses have gone up, and with more people coming to us, it is getting harder.
"Everyone, everywhere, needs more funding at the moment, everyone is feeling the recession. But, the more we spread the word about our services, the more support we will gain."
Janine was pleased that Epsom Relate’s counselling has helped change Mr Smith's life.
She said: "It is great that this young person has had such a good experience of Epsom Relate, it is a really valuable service.
"If there is a young person who has a problem and they don’t have to get help via their parents or their school, then it can be that they get help sooner rather than later before the problem has really escalated.
"Young people’s problems are becoming more complex and we have a very professional team who really care about the young people in the area.
"It is great to be here to assist young people through counselling, which can make such a difference to people’s lives."
For more information visit www.relate.org.uk