Support line freephone: 0808 2840484   Enquiries:


Survivor Text Survey

Over the summer, we carried out our first text survey of survivors that we had been in touch with during lockdown. 

  • 69% described the impact of Covid on their mental health as damaging or very damaging.
  • 64% of respondents rated the helpfulness of CSASS support at 4/5 or above.
  • The most requested adjustments, to help survivors feel safe during counselling were: Following Government guidelines (42%), On-line video counselling (42%), and using a large, well ventilated room (21%).  People also requested: on-line counselling held in our centre, using face coverings  and using clear plastic screens.
  • The most requested safe, helpful activities were: Blended on-line and face to face groupwork (42%) and various activities to carry out at home (32%).  Several people were also interested in joining an outdoor group.

Survivors also told us more about the impact Covid had on their mental health.  Some found lockdown boosted their mental health, feeling protected by being inside and spending time with a safe, small circle of people, and not going out and about in busy places was positive.

For most however, lockdown exacerbated mental health difficulties, for example making agoraphobia more pronounced.  Survivors described anxiety, depression and panic attacks getting worse, with some finding all the free time made them just think over things too much.  Previous regular activities, like getting a coffee with family, no longer felt like safe ways to socialise, and this has compounded feelings of loneliness and isolation.  Missing support and activities that normally help with managing mental health (like swimming) also came up several times.  Disrupted routines and constant changes have been unsettling, impacting sleep.  A particular source of anxiety or difficulty has been wearing and seeing others with masks – this can be triggering for some survivors, and continues to make it hard, for example to go out to food shops.

Survivors suggested providing on-line counselling sessions and zoom groups, and (once safe and allowed) group meetings face to face. Outdoor activities, like walking, was another idea that might be beneficial, and feel safe.  Survivors also gave helpful guidance on what additional safety measure to put in place, or have as options as we return to the office – we know people’s needs will be different, and we know everyone needs to feel really safe.

We have been able to respond to these needs and suggestions, for example by providing LiveChat through the day during lockdown, and Saturday Social weekly by zoom throughout lockdown to help alleviate isolation.  The social is now also running a monthly blended zoom and face to face meeting, in a Covid safe space without face coverings, for those who need this.  On-line counselling is now underway, and we have been trialling outdoor meetings and activities.

(Do have a look at our Covid Risk Assessment on the website if you’d like more practical information about how we’re managing risk)

We also asked survivors about the difference CSASS support has made, during lockdown.  Our Saturday Social group, supportline and LiveChat have been well used, and most clients switched over to remote counselling in March – by phone, or on-line video counselling on our secure platform.  Support was described as literally life changing, offering survivors clarity and confidence, help with managing emotions and just feeling less alone.  Survivors told us that CSASS made an incredible difference – to feel that they were not forgotten, and still part of a group where people genuinely care was highly valued.  The regular, reliable contact in an unsettled time has been important, knowing that there were people there to talk to every week, who could be trusted, and who would understand.  When people in the group all share an experience, it means that group members can relax – it’s a place where people are accepted without judgement or expectations.

Our support has enabled survivors to continue with their work addressing trauma, and people described being better able to set boundaries in family relationships, finding peace despite PTSD, and making helpful changes which would not have been possible to make alone.  Survivors said they had become more sure of themselves, had realised they were able to be strong, and learned to see beyond trauma and be compassionate to themselves.

We are so pleased survivors are making such good progress towards recovery, and we honour the hard work they are doing. Our waiting list has also steadily increased this year, which has meant several people waiting for longer than we would like for counselling.  We also know on-line and phone counselling is not right for everybody, and that has meant some survivors pausing their counselling for several months. In order to help with this, and we’ve recruited several new more experienced counsellors to work with us this autumn, and we’ve worked hard to make our counselling centre Covid secure, to welcome survivors back for safe, face to face work.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded, the feedback has been incredibly useful in helping us understand survivors experiences and create spaces and services that will support survivors well, in these difficult times.

Thanks also to our fantastic trustee Natasha, who arranged for TextLocal to provide this text survey service for us.  Practical support and sponsorship like this from local companies is highly appreciated.