Early in 2022 SMILE won the prestigious Charity of the Year award.
S.M.I.L.E Counselling launched on June 2015 with a mission to deliver counselling sessions to local young people.
Their primary goal is to help young people get to a good place in their lives where they feel Supported, Motivated, Inspired, Leading to self-determination and Empowered to make their own positive choices.
Please join Alan McCloskey (VSGWL) in conversation with SMILE CEO and founder Declan Harrigan to learn about SMILE, what they do and what winning the Charity of the Year award means to them.
This event is free and open to anyone in the Third Sector or children’s services in West Lothian.
S.M.I.L.E Counselling first became constituted on 15th June 2015. Since then the Board of Trustees have worked tirelessly to get the organisation to where it is today. Now we are an official Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and have begun delivering counselling sessions to local young people. We aim to be able to deliver a bespoke outreach counselling service to young people when they need it most. Our primary goal is to help young people get to a good place in their lives where they feel Supported, Motivated, Inspired, Leading to self-determination and Empowered to make their own positive choices.
S.M.I.L.E Counselling was established in 2015 with the aim of being able to offer a free counselling service for young people aged between 11 – 24 years old. This is based across West Lothian, within our office space in Livingston and various schools.
Since it’s origin, 1,036 young people have passed through the S.M.I.L.E. doors, and approximately 7,340 counselling hours have been offered. Each year, we have witnessed a significant increase in those reaching out to us for help – for example, we have already been able to offer 1,780 hours of counselling in 2022 so far, which is a 44% increase for the same time period in 2021.
We additionally welcome and give thanks to our Volunteers and Counsellors on Placement who contribute to offering free counselling to young people. We currently have 6 individuals who collectively volunteer approximately 23 hours of their time each week on behalf of S.M.I.L.E.
We are very pleased to be able to provide this help to the people we have so far, and we are always looking for ways to expand our reach.
Declan Harrigan Background
Hi there, my name is Declan and I am the Founder and CEO of S.M.I.L.E Counselling.
In my previous roles I worked with children and young people in West Lothian and the more time I spent in my role the more I noticed that many were unable to access the counselling help they needed as well as waiting times being far too long for the services that were available. I realised that our children and young people desperately needed more support so this led to S.M.I.L.E being born in 2015 to offer a free counselling service to 11–24-year-olds.
I am delighted to say that on the 15th June, 2022, we celebrated our 7th anniversary and, on this date, we were also awarded the prestigious title of Scottish Charity of the Year. To date we have helped over 1,000 individuals and 2500 young people in a group setting. That’s around 7,000 counselling hours in total!
I want to say a massive ‘thank you’ to all our funders, clients, staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen… together we really are making a difference.
Going forward we hope to continue offering our free service to as many young people as possible and it is even more crucial today due to the impact of firstly COVID-19 and now the cost of living crisis crisis. We are also excited to see our training division develop which now encompasses many more mental wellbeing and counselling training courses.
We have made changes in order to reach more young people every way we can and the key change we are making is to become more interactive online so that there is current and useful information available 24/7.
We have already adapted our approach to deliver online, telephone and email counselling. In addition to this we have added specialist services to our staffing like walk and talk therapists and our neurodiversity therapist, finding new and bespoke ways to engage with our clients that suits them.
As I said before … we will reach you and help you any way we can… and together we will overcome the challenges we face.
As always … thank you for all your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all soon.
Take care and keep smiling