Finding a way to the turning point

Sheila Medhurst, new director of Turning Point Counselling Service
Sheila Medhurst, new director of Turning Point Counselling Service

A UNIQUE counselling service which has been helping Brighouse people for almost a decade has appointed a new co-ordinator and is looking forward to continuing its caring work.

Sheila Medhurst has taken over at the helm of Turning Point which provides a ‘listening ear’ for people who are worried and stressed by the fast pace of modern life. Anxieties over relationships, loneliness, work-related stress, bereavement, childhood trauma and family problems create enormous pressure as well as physical and mental health problems.

Turning Point, which is based in Martin Street, Brighouse, was set up in 2002 by May Forsythe. It is supported by churches in Brighouse and Rastrick with the aim of providing free counselling to clients, supported by donations and grants. Though the project is Christian-based, people coming foward for help do not have to have a specific faith.

Sheila said: “Turning Point has been a great success. We have a constant stream of clients coming through and we now have a team of seven counsellors, working part-time on a voluntary basis.

“We see people with all sorts of problems but depression and anxiety are probably the most common.

“Sometimes people feel they have to hit rock bottom before they come to us but that’s not the case. Sometimes people get stuck with a problem and can’t see a way forward.

“Even if they have friends or family, people often find it easier to chat to a stranger and just talking things over in a relaxed and calm atmosphere can be enough to help them find a new way of thinking and reach the turning point in their lives.”

As co-ordinator, Sheila hopes to find a way of expanding the service by offering telephone and on-line counselling as well as help and advice for people with debt problems.

“We want to be as flexible as we can for our clients,” she said. “People can refer themselves to us or we take referrals from GPs. We have people of all ages - from young adults upwards - and all backgrounds coming to us.”

Sheila, who lives in Luddenden Foot, studied for a diploma in counselling at Calderdale College and came to Turning Point as part of her training. “I’ve been here ever since,” she said. “You have to have empathy and be a good listener but it’s very rewarding work.”

Louise Armitage is chair of Turning Point’s trustees. “People are extremely troubled and many are depressed. It’s a sad fact that many people today are unable to get the support from within their families or communities that they might have been able to in previous generations. Whether it’s because families have broken down or because families are so far-flung, people are feeling isolated and don’t know where to turn. Talking therapies of the kind we offer can be very helpful.”

Turning Point’s running costs are more than £7,000 a year and the charity is in constant need of financial support.

“We are hoping to move the service forward. We know there is a need for what we offer in the Brighouse area and we have a long-term vision of how to expand the service. At the moment everyone on our waiting list has been placed with a suitable counsellor but we know there is a growing need for our service.”