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Happy smiling family including volunteer counsellor Amanda Jemmerson

Amanda Jemmerson, 38, completed a student placement at Treetops two years ago. Since qualifying she has returned to the charity as a volunteer, counselling bereaved young people. Here’s what she’s told us about her experience.

How did you find your student placement with the Therapeutic Services team at Treetops?

“I really enjoyed my placement and felt very supported by both the staff and other volunteer counsellors. I found the introduction training weekend informative and it gave me the opportunity to gain an understanding of how Treetops worked.

Treetops helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the grieving process

“Treetops helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the grieving process and how to work with different clients in a person centred way. It also gave me the opportunity to work creatively with adults, young people and children. It allowed me to gain valuable experience working with different clients and supervision allowed me the experience of group and individual sessions.

The work is challenging but rewarding

“I decided to carry on volunteering at Treetops after I graduated because I enjoy the client work and feel a part of the team. I have never felt like going there is a chore and look forward to seeing my clients. The work is challenging but rewarding.

“I also volunteered on the Mollitiam Projx, supporting young people. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and found it inspiring to see the resilience shown by each individual.

Is counselling something you’ve always wanted to do?

“Before I started my training to become a counsellor, I worked in a school as a learning mentor, supporting children and parents. I enjoyed this role and worked closely with the school counsellor.

“My dad died very suddenly from a heart attack which left me devastated and turned my world upside down. Shortly after this a very close friend died in tragic circumstances, leaving me struggling to understand life.

“Talking to the school counsellor helped me process my grief and witnessing the positive work she was doing, made me decide to train to be a counsellor, leaving my job to go to University.

How has counselling been during the Coronavirus pandemic?

“I have found it better than I thought I would, as I really wasn’t looking forward to counselling over a laptop.

“I feel that we (myself and my client) have worked together to find ways to be creative. There are benefits to it, as I can still have a session with my client even if she is away, as long as she has a private and safe space.

“However, it has had challenges in the fact that the internet can go down or crash. It is sometimes hard to end the session if the client has become upset near the end of the session, as if this happened whilst we were at Treetops, I would have walked them out to their parent or carer.

Coronavirus has affected my client in many ways

“I feel that Coronavirus has affected my client in many ways. My client has talked a lot more about her anxieties around Coronavirus and her fears and difficulties of being at home all the time and missing school and friends.

“Sessions have still been focused on the client’s bereavement and in some cases it has highlighted the loss more, as they have had time to think about the person who has died without the distractions of ‘life’.

Tell us more about you

“I live in West Hallam with my husband, Daniel, and two children, Grace and Charlie.

Family life is busy and during lockdown I was home-schooling

“My family life is busy and during lockdown I was home-schooling the children. I have been creative with the work they have been set and done lots of playing with them.

“It has had its challenges and at times has felt a little claustrophobic but I enjoy spending time with them and going on lots of walks with them and our dog, Coco. We recently took on the challenge of ‘Couch to 5k’ which we all achieved.

“I recently started a part-time job at Derby College as a counsellor for students, but after only being there a month I had to work from home and am now furloughed until September.”

Treetops provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions.

Last year, Treetops Hospice Care provided over 1,100 bereavement sessions for children and families, over 3,000 adult bereavement counselling sessions, and over 600 support sessions for people dealing with a life-limiting condition.

Counselling is available to all users of Treetops Hospice Care services and people registered with a GP practice in Derby city or Southern Derbyshire.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need and the hospice is asking for donations to ensure they can continue to provide their services free of charge throughout the pandemic.