Building couples up when the chips are down

09 NOV 2020

An Allchurches’ Hope Beyond grant is helping a relationship counselling service to move online in an effort to support families as the challenges of Coronavirus put increasing stress on relationships.

£15,800 from Allchurches Trust will help Marriage Care to ‘Deliver Differently’ and streamline their online booking process for its relationship counselling and marriage preparation. Marriage Care has had to change the website to reflect its new online delivery methods as all face-to-face services have been put on hold due to Covid-19 regulations. 
The ‘Delivering Differently’ project will enable Marriage Care to fully train its volunteer relationship counsellors and marriage preparation facilitators in how best to work with clients online. Currently, only 72 of the 120 trained volunteer counsellors are able to work with clients online. Training will enable a large proportion of these volunteers to resume their work, helping to clear the backlog of cases that have been building up during Lockdown and support an increasing number of new cases as a result of the pressures of the pandemic. 
The grant was made by Allchurches from the Hope Beyond grants programme which enables churches and Christian charities to meet changing needs within their communities, helping them and the communities they support to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. 
Mark Molden, the Chief Executive of Marriage Care, said: “This generous grant from Allchurches Trust couldn’t come at a better time for Marriage Care – we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of people coming to us for counselling and, at this time, the only way we can help them is online and via webcam. Delivering Differently will enable us to improve our booking process, offering the people we are supporting a more streamlined process and a smoother journey,” 
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, added: “The pressures of COVID have put a lot of strain on individuals and relationships, and the counselling services that Marriage Care provide are more vital than ever. We’re delighted that our Hope Beyond funding can help them to adapt and digitalise their services so that they can support as many people as possible through these difficult times.”
Lockdown has put many couples under unprecedented strain and Marriage Care has seen a 142% increase in requests for counselling this year. Although Marriage Care was already moving towards offering online services before Coronavirus hit, the crisis precipitated the move and the work that had already been done meant that Marriage Care was able to respond very quickly to the crisis. 
When relationships break down, people struggle to find affordable accommodation and it can be harder to get or keep a job. Under such pressures people are less able to support to their dependants both financially and emotionally. It’s these facts which motivate Marriage Care to try to help keep families safe, happy and together by helping couples to live their relationships well. 
Marriage Care hopes to resume face-to-face counselling at its centres in April 2021 alongside its existing online offering. 
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