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Home > News > Guest Blog: The Harbour and Pragmatic Practitioners

Guest Blog: The Harbour and Pragmatic Practitioners

15 October 2018 | Heledd Wyn

The following piece was written by Sam Thomas, Chief Executive at The Harbour who will be speaking at our event: Pragmatic Solutions to Care Problems

We are delighted to be involved in the ‘Pragmatic Practitioners’ network here at The Harbour. The purpose of this post is to introduce ourselves, to give some more information about our services, and to explain a little more about our involvement with Pragmatic Practitioners.

We are an independent Bristol-based charity that exists to reduce the pain, loss and isolation that comes with a life-threatening illness or bereavement, including:

  • Pressure on relationships with family, friends and loved ones
  • The impact on the emotional wellbeing on the person who is ill / bereaved
  • The fear of death and dying

We do this through 1:1 and couples counselling, and group therapy. We were set up by Psychotherapist Jill Brown in 1992, so we have more than 25 years’ experience of delivering this work. Each year we support around 300 people from the Bristol area, offering in the region of 2,500 sessions of counselling over the year. All of our services are free – many of the people we support would not have the finances to pay for private counselling or therapy.

Our work is effective – on average:

  • We reduce levels of anxiety from ‘moderate’ or ‘moderate-severe’ to mild
  • 88% of people were ‘a little better’ or ‘much better’ at dealing with their problems
  • 85% of people were very satisfied with the service they received

Most importantly of all, people tell us that our services have made a real difference to their ability to cope:

“Every single session I had helped me find out more about myself and how I deal with difficult things in my life. I always felt like a weight had been lifted after each session. I have learned how to support myself and I am getting better at asking for help, as a result of my counselling.  My sessions have helped me to navigate the most difficult thing in my life, that I never thought I could talk to anyone about. I managed to find some positive in a dark situation, I couldn’t have done this without The Harbour – Thank you!”

As part of the Pragmatic Practitioners network, we offer a valuable service for other Practitioners to refer people on to. Whilst we do not support people directly with their day-to-day care needs, or their legal or financial situation, we do offer a safe space to talk and be listened to, at a time when it can feel like everything else is falling apart.

We feel it is very important to consider the emotional impact of illness, death, and dying alongside physical treatment or care. Often the two go hand in hand, and we work closely with hospital departments, other healthcare providers, and the local voluntary sector to connect our services to existing networks.

Health and social care in England is in crisis, and we have seen a huge growth in the number of people contacting us, as other services close or come under increasing pressure. We are involved in the Pragmatic Practitioner’s network because we see the value of offering pragmatic solutions to care problems, and we feel we have valuable skills and experience to offer people when their lives are thrown into chaos and confusion as a result of life-threatening illness.

At the first Pragmatic Practitioners conference on 18th October we will be talking about the importance of bearing the couple in mind when it comes to offering support services, illustrated through our work with couples affected by dementia. We hope to see you there!

If you would like to find out more about us please visit: or call us on 0117 925 9348.  

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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