Setting up the organisation

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Hey everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Sarah and I’m a Registered BACP Accredited Counsellor and also the proud owner of a BSc in Criminology; I’m the director and founder of ‘Centre of Change Project’.

I set up this organisation because I have a real passion for helping those in need, those who are deprived and disadvantaged. I am going to describe to you my journey that helped me achieve this success.

About twenty five years ago, while I was working for the local government, the first seedlings of building a safe place, a service for individuals experiencing difficult or traumatic times, began to germinate.  I have always had a deep desire to facilitate the well being of others, and this quality has meant that my working life has been predominantly spent in the caring profession, such as nursing and careers development. After years of working for other people, not really focusing on  my life goals and ambitions, I was suddenly made redundant from the local government.

Shortly afterwards another door opened…

I began volunteering for Victim Support in Croydon as a support care worker and before long I was able to enrol onto a training programme enabling me to work with sexually abused clients. Working alongside these clients allowed me to expand my knowledge and develop my skills, I was now inspired to develop my mission and fulfil my dreams. The road ahead wasn’t an easy one and I juggled training as a counsellor whilst volunteering for an organisation helping young people with very complex issues. Over the years, my counselling training allowed me to experience first hand, the transformation of lives that had one been shattered by sexual abuse. I  branched out into different areas to broaden my horizons, working at other organisations that gave me an insight into other areas, including bereavement work.

Having acquired all this knowledge and new skills I knew it was time for me to spread my wings and take a risk! With encouragement and support from family and friends, I took the plunge and Centre of Change Project was born. With the aid of a diverse management committee, the service has flourished and grown. My initial aim was to offer Counselling, Information and Advice to young people and their families. The objectives have since been expanded, tweaked and refined over time as I have further understood the need of the local community that the Project serves.

Many of those who use the services are young vulnerable people within the community, those who are excluded from school or at risk of exclusion as well as those who are known to the criminal justice service as young offenders. It was working with these section of young people that inspired me t complete a degree in criminology; it gives a deep insight into how the Criminal Justice System works and allows me to be more effective as a counsellor.

The Centre of Change Project was officially opened in 2010 by the mayor of Croydon. It has been a long hard struggle for the project over the years, but slowly and surely it has gone from strength to strength.  We have organised and carried out numerous fundraising events and activities, to keep the project alive.  We also received a small amount of funding from Croydon Council but we are still deeply in need of further help.

Because of its uniqueness, there is a great demand for our services. Our doors have been opened to large numbers of the Croydon community. When we first started out I was the only counsellor, but now there are eight other Counsellors, Mentors, and three Tutors. We also have an over whelming amount of enquiries each month from volunteers.

In 2013, I was Awarded Winner of the Civic Life-Time Achievement.  I think it’s fair to say that for me this has been an achievement of a lifetime. I have achieved my dreams and embarked on a wonderful adventure along the way.

Thanks for reading my story and don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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