Year on year growth for YMCA’s Full Circle Counselling Service

“In 2022/2023 YMCA Bournemouth’s counselling service had 214 referrals, saw 238 clients and provided 1686 counselling hours compared to 62 counselling referrals, 104 clients and 864 counselling hours in 2021/2022. ”

Over the last 100 years, YMCA Bournemouth’s (charity number 1078728) mission has been to strive to enable people to develop their full potential in mind, body, and spirit. YMCA Bournemouth creates supportive, inclusive, and energising communities where people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

YMCA Bournemouth supports marginalised people in a variety of settings and circumstances, including the most vulnerable and challenging individuals experiencing insecure housing. They are uniquely placed to cater for vulnerable populations whose needs are intrinsically woven into their personal and environmental factors. They work with people who are particularly marginalised and experiencing multiple disadvantages who need tools and, resources to advance their lives. They place importance on fostering local resilience and sustainable, positive change.

100% of the people the YMCA supports in their accommodations are single, between the ages of 18 – 65 and have been street homeless or vulnerably housed.

They currently house 112 individuals, many with complex health needs.

Analysis of their ‘Housing Client Profile History’ shows:

  • 59.8% misuse drugs and alcohol.
  • 56.3% have a diagnosed mental health condition.
  • 28.6% have a dual diagnosis – Dual Diagnosis refers to the experience of multiple, complex health challenges, such as mental health and/or substance misuse problems, alongside homelessness.
  • 8.9% demonstrate suicidal ideation / suicide attempts – this is the highest number in an 18-month period.

Through their Full Circle Counselling service, they work with individuals helping them navigate a way to independent living, especially those who have been with YMCAB longer than 2 years or seem “stuck” and lack the confidence and mental wellbeing to make the move towards full independence. These individuals make up 51% of their current residents.

By providing mental health support at this critical ‘move-on’ stage, they are increasing their chances of success.

The client sessions with the counsellor takes a person-centred approach. The sessions are weekly until the client moves-on and they then receive up to six months of support, if required, thereafter.

The YMCA are helping those hardest to reach, whose barriers to moving-on are more than financial.

Additional barriers might include substance abuse, chronic homelessness, poor life-skills, mental health issues, past trauma and impacts of the current cost-of-living crisis.

The YMCA part fund this service through applications to trusts and foundations. The Benefact Trust and The Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Trust have been very supportive this year.

“I became homeless after a mental health breakdown. Whilst at the YMCA I was able to grow in strength; I feel staff see the potential in everyone and pull this out of you. In January 2023 I moved out into my own flat. Without the YMCA, I don’t feel I’d be the person I am today.” (former Housing resident)

Any surplus funds generated from the low-cost Counselling service that is taken up by businesses and the community, is re-invested into supporting the service for people insecurely housed.

Counselling is provided with their trained counsellors and can be accessed at three locations in Bournemouth​:​ Winton and Southbourne; there is also an opportunity to access this service remotely. The YMCA are an organisational member of the B.A.C.P (British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists) and follow their Ethical Framework.

You can find out more about the YMCA and its Counselling service here or by contacting them via email


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