Victory councillor Mark Peart opens the door to the new counselling room at the Victory Community Centre. He is joined by his team, back from left, nurse Rachel Thomas, Donna Rivers, Nancy Eisenberg, Trish Watson, Helen Williams and Vanessa Bruce. Photo: Kate Russell.

No boundaries for counselling service

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A free counselling service in Victory is breaking down barriers and proving that it’s not hard to get help.

The Victory Community Centre is celebrating the addition of a designated counselling room, due to being “inundated” with people in need.

The room was officially opened and blessed yesterday, with the centre’s community nurse Rachel Thomas saying it has been a “longstanding goal” of the team of six councillors.

“The centre has provided a counselling service since it opened and we’ve been making do with whatever space is available in the centre for some time, so it’s exciting we finally have a room,” she says.

“It’s a peaceful environment with nice furniture and things on the wall.”

In the last four months alone, the service has provided 110 counselling hours to clients, and Rachel says that number continues to climb.

“The need is always growing. I’ve seen an increase in hardship and more complex situations which have definitely put a strain on our services.

“A lot of people come to us in crisis, we see a huge range of situations, ages and stages and we just want to tell people they are not alone.”

Rachel says people are able to self-refer themselves to the centre or come through an agency.

“People are put in contact with a councillor within 48 hours and they get six to 10 sessions, which can be held in the mornings or evenings – there is quite a lot of flexibility.”

As well as experienced councillors, the service also supports third-year NMIT students to reach the practical hours they require for their professional body.

Rachel says she wants to get the word out to those who do not know about the services and may be in need.

“There can be a perception that counselling is expensive, but we’re a completely free service in a familiar environment.”

The Victory Community Centre counselling service is free to the wider Victory community, to find out more, call 546 8389.