Our work in Knowle West

In 2023 we worked with Knowle West Health Park, on a 6-month pilot. And we are very pleased to have recently been granted £5000 to help us continue this work. The grant will help us provide weekly sessions of individual and/or couple counselling supporting 30 people in the next year.

It will also help us develop training and support for frontline community workers and volunteers – running sessions on how to talk about death and grief, how to provide support and hold a group safely.  

We know that financial hardship has a direct impact on dealing with complex grief. Our aim is to develop a model of partnership working which can be replicated in other areas of multiple deprivation in Bristol.  Big thanks go to Quartet Community Foundation and the Celtic Connections Fund for helping us with this work.

Parts of Knowle West are in the top 10% of areas of urban deprivation in England. Bereavement is a key presenting priority in the community and interplays in a complex way with loneliness, physical and mental health, employment, and income. Knowle West Health Park, a community anchor organisation, received 631 client referrals from the primary care network in 12 months where over 10% state bereavement as the key issue.  

In 2023 The Harbour ran a six-month pilot providing information drop-in sessions and one-to-one counselling at Knowle West Health Park. We developed a model for providing professionally led grief support within the community and creating a pathway for people to connect with existing community activities. We began with outreach, talking to a lot of people about our work: visiting fish and chip shops, places of worship, GP practices and connecting with local social prescribers.  

From the pilot we learned that: 

  • clients were initially distrustful of ‘counselling’, but the drop-ins allowed one-to-one conversations which changed their minds    
  • it’s important to provide a local service – removing the financial barrier of travel, giving easier access to clients whose condition makes it difficult to go far, providing a service in familiar surroundings   
  • money was a big issue; however providing a range of options alongside free access is important. 50% contributed £10 per session as they ‘wanted to pay something’   
  • local access encourages the development of sustained local referral routes, rather than relying on self-referral, which assumes a lot of awareness of available support.

For the duration of the pilot we worked with 8 clients with a high take-up of sessions. We conducted 8 assessments and 5 clients completed their counselling in this period. 100% stated an improvement in their emotional wellbeing and 100% said they felt better able to deal with their problems following counselling. All clients showed an improvement in the standard measures of anxiety and depression.