A counselling support project that is the first of its kind in Wales has been agreed between the University of South Wales (USW) and Newport City Council.

The renewed partnership will see USW specialists providing counselling services to every school in the city, and ensure children aged between three and 19 given access to vital services, including counselling and psychotherapy, both face to face and online.

USW will also provide counselling for children not in education, employment or training (NEETS) from the Helen Kegie Centre for Therapies, which was opened earlier this year in the University’s Newport Campus.

The partnership, which is supported by USW Commercial Services, is a result of Welsh legislation that requires local authorities to provide school-based counselling services to children aged 10 (year 6) and above. Newport council extended this to age three, and designed the only scheme of its kind across Wales in partnership with USW specialists.

Christian Davies-Trigg, School Counselling Service Manager at USW, said: “We’ve been working with Newport council since 2010, initially providing counsellors to all primary school pupils, before extending the programme to cover all secondary schools.

“We’re thrilled to have secured this contract again and to continue working with the council. The idea is that, in addition to providing counselling services to schoolchildren, it also allows us to provide placements to our students on university courses, such as art psychotherapy, children and young people, and consultative supervision.

“Because we have hired the counsellors ourselves, we know our students are receiving a high-quality placement that meets our standards – standards that are now influencing Welsh Government guidance.”

USW Therapy has been asked to work with Welsh Government to develop the School-based Counselling Operating Toolkit, which includes guidance for counsellors and counselling services across Wales.

Christian says: “The service we run with Newport City Council is very forward-thinking and influential. Within counselling, the whole world is looking at Wales right now.”

The service is promoted at schools across the city as ‘TalkingZone’ – encouraging students to talk to counsellors either at school or online about any issues they face.

Children who have used TalkingZone have said that counselling helped them cope with situations both inside and outside of school, that their counsellor improved their self-worth, confidence, and gave them the ability to speak for themselves.

For more information on USW Therapy, visit www.southwales.ac.uk/therapies.