Posted: 05.06.20 at 12:11 by Francesca Evans
arc (Axminster), a registered charity offering unique counselling services to adults, is often referred to as “the hidden gem in Axminster”.
Since it was founded in 2007 by Catherine Davies, Arc has supported nearly 2,500 referrals - but its services has never been more in demand than during the current crisis.
Despite having to now conduct their consultations on-line, due to the coronavirus lockdown, Arc counsellors have never been more busy.
arc provides easily accessible, flexible, local counselling and psychotherapy at the heart of the community.
The service supports the personal recovery of local patients registered at Axminster Medical Practice, who are seeking help through times of profound change, trauma and loss.
An indicator of how important the service is reflected in the fact that one in seven patients are referred to arc whose counsellors operate out of Restharrow.
Counsellors offer one-to-one sessions. They spend in-depth time with patients, looking at their needs and concerns. They will help them readjust to some of the painful changes taking place in their lives.
Here’s what one patient said after seeking arc’s services: “I would never have been able to return from the dark hole I was in without my counsellor’s help. The service I received was caring and helpful, of which I am most grateful.”
And here’s what another patient said: “I cannot explain the difference to my life the counselling has made. The ‘problem’ will never change but I feel more able to deal with it. This in turn has a knock-on effect to all areas of mine and my family’s life. My counsellor was wonderful, I won’t forget her!”
It costs around £70,000 a year to finance the service, all of which is raised through donations, grants and fundraising. Recently arc was delighted to hear they had secured a £7,575 grant from the Devon Coronavirus Recovery and Relief Fund.
One of the key sources of funding comes from the Friends of Arc shop in Chard Street, run by Jess/Tania, Jess who founded the “Make And Mend” initiative, a successful craft hub for participants of all backgrounds, experiences and ages, who share a common ambition to turn the shop into a 'zero landfill waste' project.
Arc is controlled by a board of trustees, chaired by Shelaagh Fearnley. The vice-chairman is Axminster county councillor Ian Hall, who places mental health of his constituents very high on his list of priorities in all his local government work in the community.
The other members of the board are founder Catherine Davies, Dr Barry McKenna, a senior partner of Axminster Medical Practice, also a founder, treasurer Gareth Pratt, Caroline Lambert and Chris Outlaw. arc’s administrator is Debbie Frances.
One of the more successful and unusual fundraising efforts come from Dr McKenna and Gary Wakley who for the last ten years have taken part in the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race, which finishes opposite the Houses of Parliament, raising thousands of pounds.
To help the trustee board grow and to continue to support Arc in Axminster, more trustees are required.
Chair person Shelaagh Fearnley said: “Without a board of trustees, Arc cannot undertake its vital work in the community.
“The board meets for a minimum of four times a year with more meetings being arranged as needed. We meet via technology on line of face-to-face when we can. Meetings are usually two hours and recorded by our administrative assistant.
“We need local folks with energy and enthusiasm to become trustees. You could be young or not to young, with experience or none. The serving trustees have backgrounds in business, accounting, IT, clinical and secretarial work.”
Those who would like to offer their services should contact Ian for a chat 07917416021 or email Debbie [email protected] to find out whether you could make a difference.