Links Counselling Service Open Morning at The Venue, Ballymena // Friday 26 April 2024

An Open Morning to raise awareness locally about Links Counselling Service and the work they are doing to provide professional counselling to those from the Ballymena area. The morning will be held at their NEW counselling facility at The Venue, Broughshane Street, Ballymena on Friday 26th April 2024 from 10.30am-12noon.

Links Counselling Service is a charity that was birthed out of Emmanuel Church in Lurgan to help close the gap in health inequalities that exist in the community. With a strap line “No One Journeys Alone”, Links exists to make counselling accessible to all who need it, when they need it most. “We believe that everyone should have access to professional help at their point of need, and that counselling should be accessible within the community. We’re delighted to expand our service in Ballymena. We have been led to increase our ability to see not just adults, but children and hopefully couples as well in the near future. Most importantly, we’re here to be a Link for those in need of support within their locality, and aim to work with other community organisations, churches and statutory bodies to help bring the needs of the community into sharp focus.” (Laura Wylie, CEO, Links Counselling Service)

Revealing a little more about the origins of the project, Janine Logan, who is one of the Counsellors, told The Church Page:
“Links was initially established as a cross-community youth project in Lurgan, seeking to be a neutral place of healing and support for both sides of the sectarian divide. Initially our work was focused primarily on youth work, but as the needs of the community grew, we decided to specialise our efforts in the field of mental health and specifically around offering professional counselling services. The service name came out of our desire to be ‘links’ in the community; we want to connect with other people as no-one journeys through life alone.”

Janine went on to say: “Most of our work in Ballymena is supported financially by the Northern Trust, so you can go to the doctor and get 6 sessions paid for by the NHS; however, 6 sessions can be too limited for some, and it doesn’t take into account the costs associated for counselling children, young people and couples, of which there is huge need and no available funding, therefore we need businesses, churches and community organisations to come onboard and help us to support other potential clients because the need for our service as reached a high level, and we are witness to the benefits of counselling for the people who have availed of our service”

“In my role as a Counsellor, I see lots of heart-breaking stories and often coming through community mental health services in Ballymena as they are overrun with people, so they often signpost people to us. Some of those who approach us have been experienced traumatic events and will wait years for psychology support. However, we know that help at the point of need, rather than service availability can make all the difference to someone mental health and wellbeing.”

Janine states that the aim of the Links Counselling service is to build up people’s self-esteem and resilience, help them process difficulties and overcome adversity. The ultimate goal is to reduce suicide and transgenerational trauma, helping families flourish and individuals contributing positively to society.

Janine adds: “I think because I love people and I feel like there’s a little bit of hope and joy can be restored by talking and by creating a sense of community, there’s just something about that – It is so lovely, it makes my heart sing just be part of the process watching people as they realise new and important things about themselves.”

As someone who lost a close friend to suicide several years ago, Janine is extra aware of the importance of counselling in helping to overcome emotional or other forms of trauma:
“Often people come to us in distress and at a time of hopelessness, but I’ve witnessed many people leaving counselling with a sense of hope and knowledge that they matter. There is something about that and it gives me a real passion for what I do. We all experience difficulties and hard times in life but using that as an empathetic tool and not letting what has previously happened us define who we are today.”
Speaking with genuine enthusiasm, Janine also said: “I could talk forever about some of the things that we have got planned in our mission to help people and we hope that lots of people, including Church Leaders, businesspeople and others will come to the Open Day at The Venue in Ballymena.”

Links Counselling Service Open Morning at The Venue, Ballymena // Friday 26 April 2024

Alternatively, anyone who would like to know more about Links Counselling or even make a self-referral to the service may contact them via their website