MY FEGANS EXPERIENCE
Whilst sitting at my kitchen table recently, busily trying to get my head around my Fegans computer, I received a phone call from Jennie Worthley. Jennie starting with “Say no if you want to”…asked if I’d be willing to put a few words together about my experience of joining Fegans, as a new counsellor. It wasn’t long before I found myself persuaded, thinking it shouldn’t be too difficult? Not known for my concise and to the point writing style, it wasn’t until afterwards I began to wonder what I’d got myself into and if perhaps Jennie may wish she hadn’t asked…
My journey began when my attention was drawn to Fegans whilst at a CPD day in early spring this year. Never having heard of Fegans a colleague encouraged me to look them up, as they may be looking for new counsellors in Thanet. It had been a disheartening few months where the precious funding for the counselling service I had developed for Home Start in Canterbury had run dry, leaving my clients and myself only a month to work through suitable endings and to find opportunities of referral, for what were some quite vulnerable clients. I loved my work with Home Start and my experience there had helped me discover an area of work I felt I could make a difference.
Now like so many counsellors I’d found myself trawling through the internet and everywhere looking for counselling work. As many will know who work in the counselling field, finding work isn’t easy, finding work that you feel fits in with your own set of values and principles and what you may have found is an area of work your heart leads you to, can feel like a mission impossible. It was my experience at that point which had left me feeling disillusioned and somewhat hopeless. Recently having had an interview for an IAPT service, my experience was of a cold slightly unethical world of getting people through as quickly as possible, which so often falls very short of a positive and effective experience for those we hope to serve, not least for counsellors who feel they are working against their own instincts and of the therapeutic experience they want to provide. It seemed I was now faced with the prospect and task to find work that I wanted to do balanced with work had to do in order to provide for myself.
With the name FEGANS sounding in my ears that evening, I set about reading the Fegans website. I was totally knocked out as I read through the values and ethos described and all about Fegans and its work. I thought ‘Wow, they not only do the work I so long to do but they Love and know God as well!’ It had me both excited and relieved to find an organisation that appeared to reflect so much of what I try to aspire to and believe as a counsellor and as a person. Feeling compelled to finish an application and writing until 2 in the morning, I finished with a heartfelt prayer that asked that God would have his hand on my application, if it was right for me.
Well I believe perhaps he did as it wasn’t long before I was in Tunbridge Wells meeting Mary Fowlie and Tia Barham for what I can only describe as the most positive interview experience I’ve had. It was a far cry from my recent interview which felt like I was in front of the firing squad. I have never felt more able to be so much my authentic self in an interview, which was so much to do with the genuine warmth and encouragement Mary and Tia provided which was both uplifting and left me with a renewed sense of hope .
I can’t tell you how delighted I was to hear the news I had been successful and it wasn’t long before I was given a great opportunity to join the first of Fegans Child Counselling Trainings. This week-long training held in Tunbridge Wells was an amazing week where we were able to play, laugh and share our experiences, explore and learn together. Liz, who led and presented the training kept us busy with her brilliant presentation with a mix of incredibly interesting theory and plenty of time to get in touch with our free child which for me didn’t take much encouragement. It was such a valuable week filling us all with an increased confidence and enthusiasm to get started which came much quicker than I expected.
Asked if I would be interested in supporting some referrals through the summer Holidays, as I was travelling home from my training week, I jumped at the chance to work with some teenagers. My only reservation being how will we get teenagers to attend counselling in summer holidays, in nearly 30 degree summer sunshine, Hmmm….?. Undeterred I was determined to make myself available to these needy young people, in the hope this offer of support would be enough to lead them to the door. However as we all know so often people don’t know how much they need support until sometimes long into the process. Needless to say I spent some interesting days in Folkestone’s Children Centre, often on my own.
Since those early weeks at Fegans, I have got to know a great team at Fegans Thanet with their generous warmth and welcome with Jane and Matt, who have always been there to support me. Despite a skeleton crew at the helm through the summer, I’ve managed to muddle through and feel more and more a part of Fegans. An invitation to Staff Day was a really lovely welcome to Fegans and to meet those you might not get to meet except on those little pictures on your computer screen or a friendly voice on the phone. It was a great day and I was struck by the genuine regard and attempt of those who lead at Fegans, to bring everyone together with an openness to everyone’s ideas thoughts and suggestions. The theme of the day encouraged everyone to consider what makes them feel valued and a part of Fegans. Well I have to say the genuine warmth care and respect I have received has been joined by support thanks and encouragement for my role. I have found a developing a sense of belonging to an organisation with a real heart for its purpose which makes me feel proud to be a part of Fegans. Standing by its principles with a genuine desire to do what’s best for those it serves, inspires me to want to do more. I feel I’ve joined and become a part of something special which appears to draw people who are of like mind and heart in their purpose.
To end, I like to say Thank You to all at Fegans and look forward to continue to try and make a positive contribution to the people I hope to help and support and to Fegans one and all.
Dawn Weeks – Counsellor