What’s Been Happening?
Back in March 2020 when the UK-wide lockdown was imposed to try to limit/halt the spread of COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) all face-to-face personal advancement sessions normally delivered by MANN uP at Source Wellbeing in Belfast stopped.
This was for two reasons. Firstly because all individuals were not allowed to travel for anything other than essential journeys, so travelling to and from sessions was no longer possible. Secondly, and most importantly, to help protect the health and wellbeing of clients.
At that time it was vitally important that any MANN uP clients who were in the midst of a personal advancement programme were not just ‘dropped’ or left in limbo. So the initial priority was to put in place a ‘contingency plan’ to offer existing MANN uP clients sessions via another means (online), that would enable them to continue doing great work to improve the quality of their lives and unlock their own personal potential.
For those clients, working online with MANN uP not only meant they could continue with the work they had been doing in a face-to-face format, it also turned out to be a useful means to help them process and adjust to the impact that COVID-19 was having on their lives.
Since the end of March 2020, all MANN uP work with clients has been taking place online using a video conferencing package called Zoom. It has taken some time for both sides to adjust to engaging in sessions via webcam. However, for many clients, this has actually turned out to be a liberating and very relaxing way to engage that enables them to access support from MANN uP in the comfort of their own home.
What is the Current Status?
Currently all MANN uP sessions are being delivered via Zoom with face-to-face working suspended.
Sessions that run for the ‘therapeutic hour’ (50 minutes) are still offered to clients at a time that works for them based on evening and weekend slot availabilities.
Over the past few months, a series of processes and protocols for collaborating together online have been implemented that help to protect a client’s privacy and confidentiality when engaging in sessions delivered via this means.
Clients have been supported to learn about the technology and how to get the best outcomes for themselves from working online, so that they can make an informed decision to decide to engage in a personal advancement session via this means.
As lockdown continues to ease, the NI Executive’s Recovery Plan is taking us all through a five step path to recovery that will see current restrictions in Northern Ireland incrementally relax to allow society and the economy to open up again to enable us all to adjust to a ‘new normal’.
According to that Recovery Plan (please read the latest from NIDirect) from the point of view of businesses (including MANN uP) we are currently in Step 3, with no date confirmed yet for phased return to ‘office working’ (subject to a risk assessment being carried out).
Although consent has been given for ‘close contact’ businesses to re-open (such as hairdressing, barbering, dentistry, etc.) and other wellbeing-related businesses such as gyms and fitness studios are now able to open, there is no specific guidance available for counselling/psychotherapy businesses.
Without specific guidance, the nearest comparator to a counselling/psychotherapy business would currently seem to be ‘office working’, here current guidance is: “work that can be done from home should be done from home.” The Priority Sectors List for NI (which highlights businesses that should be supported to operate during COVID-19) does not make specific mention of counselling/psychotherapy businesses. Finally, the British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy (the regulatory body that MANN uP subscribes to) states that for Northern Ireland: “you may not leave home to go to work unless it is not ‘reasonably possible’ to do so from home.”
All of the above would indicate that there is not a clear ‘green light’ as yet for counselling/psychotherapy businesses in Northern Ireland to return to face-to-face operations as yet, and the guidance would indicate that for now, as counselling is work that can be done from home, it should be done from home.
What’s Happening Next?
For now and at least the next few weeks, all MANN uP personal advancement sessions will be delivered to clients only via online means (i.e. using Zoom).
MANN uP has already prepared a workplace risk assessment that sets out a comprehensive range of safety protocols that will be put in place to keep clients as safe as possible when we can return to offering face-to-face sessions. This risk assessment will be reviewed again in early August 2020 to take into account governmental/regulatory body at that time relating to counselling/psychotherapy businesses. At that time, we will update all existing and potential new clients about the way forward for resuming face-to-face sessions.
Disregardless of the status of face-to-face working, it is planned that MANN uP will continue to offer all clients the option of working online for the remainder of 2020. This empowers clients to make the choice about a way of working that feels safest for them, and will also protect against service interruptions should further local lockdowns be imposed later in the year.
We have just also launched the Covid-19: Working Safely With MANN uP Online Protocols that will support clients unused to using video conferencing software such as Zoom to be empowered to access our services in that way.
When we return to face-to-face sessions, all clients choosing to engage via that method will also be provided with a copy of COVID-19: Working Safely With MANN uP Face-to-Face Protocols.
Arrange a Session
If you are interested in booking an online session, check out the range of options we can offer, visit the Personal Advancement Services page on this website.
In anticipation of being able to return to face-to-face working soon, we have amended our available session times (to give more time for cleaning). As of Monday 27th July 2020, session slots are as follows:
Tuesday and Thursday (evening session)
Slot 1: 4.30pm – 5.30pm
Slot 2: 5.45pm – 6.45pm)
Slot 3: 7.00pm – 8.00pm)
Slot 4: 8.15pm – 9.15pm)
Saturday (morning session)
Slot 1: 10.00am – 11.00am
Slot 2: 11.15am – 12.15pm
Slot 3: 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Saturday (afternoon session)
Slot 1: 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Slot 2: 3.15pm – 4.15pm
Slot 3: 4.30pm – 5.30pm
To arrange an online session, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally for now, COVID-19 is still out there and still putting people’s health at risk.
Visit the NIDirect website for information on the symptoms and for advice on what to do is you suspect you or someone close to you may have contracted it.