'A calm, caring cocoon where every child and young person reaches their true potential' - children and young people aged 3-19 years, and their families use Cocoon Kids - Creative Counselling and Play Therapy CIC's therapeutic sessions to safely explore their experiences.
Our Spelthorne and Hounslow West, Surrey Borders area is in the top 19% of the Indices of Deprivation, 2019 - with some areas ranking in the top 3. Formed at the height of the pandemic in direct response to our community telling us they're at breaking-point. Our community: children, young people and families on low incomes, receiving benefits and living in social housing, Our families already received free school meals, even before Covid-19. They're now also bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.
Why this matters
Poverty and mental health difficulties in childhood significantly increases the likelihood of serious, long-term adult mental health challenges (Children’s Society, 2022). Our families are frustrated that CAMHS and other services typically offer 6-8 week sessions, after an extremely long waiting period (if at all). Often services are term-time and daytime only, and CBT or talk-based. But children and young people need different approaches to adults, especially when impacted by trauma (BACP, 2022).
How our organisation meets our community's needs
We're not-for-profit and reinvests our surplus into fully-funded sessions for our community. Priority families are close to all of our hearts at Cocoon Kids, and our team also has lived-experience of intergenerational socio-economic disadvantage, social housing and ACEs, too. This is why our Child-Centred approach is Child Development, ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Attachment and Trauma Informed - and our longer-term sessions use ‘bottom-up’ neuroscience-evidenced sensory regulatory best-practice approaches.
Children, young people and their families tell us how important this deeper lived-experience understanding and our 'bottom-up' sensory regulatory approach is to them. They tell us it really helps that we understand the additional challenges and barriers they face and 'get it' because we've walked in their shoes, too.
Bringing this sensory regulatory 'bottom-up' approach and focus on supporting our community of priority families living in social and insecure housing through longer-term sessions, is something that's missing. We're already breaking through some glass ceilings as BAME, neurodiverse and 75% female-led organisation, but under the School for Social Entrepreneurs Start-Up program, we've big plans. We're already planning our conversion to a CIO and regional and nationwide services in the future, as we're repeatedly asked if we extend and can expand to other areas. Using our therapeutic training and our volunteer experience at Great Ormond Street Hospital, our dream is to have easily accessible therapeutic sensory spaces right where they're needed in the heart of our communities.
No such thing as 'hard to reach' families
Our aim is to be the service that our own families needed, too. Many of our families are often referred to as 'vulnerable', 'hard-to-reach' or 'disengaged' - we don't agree! We're a responsive organisation, and work alongside our community to make sure that we best meet what they tell us they need. Our priority family engagement is extremely high, and our ongoing monitoring and feedback evidences the great therapeutic relationship we have with each family - something we're particularly delighted with.
Sessions that match a family's need, not a structure that's a barrier
To make sure that our sessions are accessible and tailored to meet our families preferences, they can choose their meetings and sessions by telehealth, as well as face to face, and these can be arranged in the evenings, too. Something that they've shared is especially important as many of our families are young carers, or have mobility difficulties, and don't have a car. We've listened to families and worked with them to find ways that can help us stay connect. Our calls are set out in a way that makes sure they know it's us, as we know what it's like to avoid the phone when it's a call asking for money that we don't have, too. The positive and long-lasting impact of our work shows why each child, young person and family chooses to continue to use their sessions and stay in contact over the breaks.
Focusing on mental health equity
Private fees for similar sessions typically cost upward of £80 each child, each session. But, income shouldn't be a barrier for families to access our quality, appropriate and highly effective longer-term therapeutic services. This is why our sessions are fully-funded for families who can't ordinarily afford them. We fundraise, apply for grants, sell Play Packs and other resources and offer some private fee and other funded sessions, so that the surplus meets the costs of our personalised longer-term sessions for our priority community families - for as long as is therapeutically right for each child, young person and their family.
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