After ten years of planning and fundraising Willows Counselling Service has now moved into new premises in Prospect Place, Old Town.
The formal opening took place on 11 September when Baroness Jill Pitkeathley officially opened the new centre. Swindon Mayor Councilor David Wren and Swindon South MP Anne Snelgrove, above, were also present, and a blessing was offered by Revd Ward Jones, chairman of the Methodist District.
In the 1980’s Revd Ward Jones researched the needs of patients which resulted in the setting up of a working party by the then District GP committee and Thamesdown Borough Council. This in turn led to the establishment of Willows as an independent Charity providing professional counselling, training and debt advice.
Baroness Pitkeathley offered to be patron of Willows capital appeal when it became evident that the premises in Cricklade Road would not be big enough for the increasing demands upon the service.
She wrote, “I am delighted to be able publicly to endorse the excellent work done by this much needed service. I am honoured to have been asked to be a Patron of their Development Fund, which will enable them to achieve their aims of operating from premises which are both large enough, and appropriately equipped.
"The need for a larger building is, in itself, testament to the huge demand for the range of services on offer to those who have experienced trauma and abuse.
"I have worked with Mike Fisher, pictured on left of picture on the right, for many years and have the greatest possible confidence, both in the quality of the services on offer, and in the ability of all those involved in The Willows, to deliver these services compassionately and effectively.”
The opening of the new centre enables continued expansion and development of the work of Willows which has a number of outreach projects in the Parks, Penhill and Pinehurst where free counselling is offered through the Targeting Swindon initiative.
Willows also works closely with a number of other organisations including NSPCC, Barnardos, Salvation Army, St Johns Church, the Family Mediation service and other agencies. In addition, Willows has satellite rooms in other towns including Marlborough, Devizes, Cirencester and Highworth.
Willows Counselling Service can be contacted at The Willows Centre, 11 Prospect Place, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 3LQ
Photos by Eileen Norris.