Relate MTB Interview on BBC Radio Berkshire

Big thanks to our Counsellor Pamela for a great interview on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday (30/03/20), speaking to Bill Buckley about relationships and how to cope in the current situation. The interview takes places 2 hrs 36 minutes into the mid-morning programme and lasts for approximately 10 minutes.

Listen to Pamela’s reassuring words on how to get through this time in isolation as a couple and a family.

Pamela was asked if it’s OK for couples to be ‘bumbling along’ during this period and she answered “bumbling along is not a bad way to approach this.  Being flexible, being kind and not to allow things to get on top of you could be a way through this”.

Pamela talked about “Being stuck in the house together – try to give each other space, you don’t have to be in the same room together all of the time”.

During the interview Pamela draws out some of the positives from this situation and shares with the listeners “This time could give couples and families the opportunity to re-discover one another as there’s real potential here for relationships to be expanded not diminished”.

Pamela shared that our counsellors have upskilled and are offering counselling sessions via web cam “we are working with couples whose relationships are already under strain, Relate MTB are open and ready for new clients”.

Relate MTB are offering web-counselling during the Covid-19 restrictions, continuing to provide counselling sessions to couples, families & individuals using a secure & confidential, easy to use online platform, so do not hesitate to get in touch through the contact page on our website or by emailing Our counsellors will also be sharing advice to help your relationships through these stressful times so please share this post to reach out to our community:



How to talk to children about coronavirus

A counsellor explains how to keep kids informed without worrying them more.

For many adults across the globe, the threat of coronavirus is the most pressing issue at the minute – one we really can’t get away from. While we have rolling news channels and social media feeds to keep up constantly abreast of the latest developments, our children aren’t quite so in the loop. That doesn’t mean, though, that they aren’t aware of the distressing situation, or that they don’t have concerns of their own that need working through.

Talking to children about coronavirus might seem hard when it comes to knowing what’s best to say, how and when. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s important that conversation happens. Here, Peter Saddington, a counsellor working for Relate in The Midlands, shares his advice for keeping children informed while always reassuring them.

How informed should you keep your child?

How informed you choose to keep your child does depend on the age and their age and nature, according to Peter.

“Not every child is growing up in a household where everything has been normal up until now. If they’ve had a parent, sibling or grandparent who’s died they might be more anxious than a child who’s never experienced anything like that. It’s got to be unique to your child and your circumstances.

“Children will be hearing about things, though, and they will be worried about it.”

Peter advises asking children what they’re worried about and what they actually know.

“Start by asking them how they are. Ask if they’re worried about the virus and check what they’ve heard in case it’s not accurate.

“You’ll make them more worried by not talking about it, so it’s better to talk about it. Showing empathy is important, too. It is scary times and something people worry about, so it is about explaining to children the normality of being anxious or worried about not knowing all the information or what’s going to happen

“You can start explaining the facts and dispelling myths to reassure them. One of the facts that’s out now is that children generally recover very quickly from it,” Peter said.

“If they’re much younger you might say: ‘It’s not a nice illness, it’s unlikely you’ll catch it, and there are things we can do to protect you.’

“If they’re older and able to understand then it’s saying: ‘This is something lots of something people will get but there’s a lot we can do to protect ourselves against it, it’s a bit like flu or other serious illnesses that have been around – lots of people get it and lots of people recover from it.’”

How to approach the conversation

“If your child is worried or comes to ask you questions, that’s the best time to talk about it. If they’re worried and they brought it up – don’t put them off. If they’ve brought it up it’s because they’re worried,” Peter said.

“If they haven’t brought it up but it’s being talked about, then I’d make a point of turning the telly off, making sure there are no distractions and saying: ‘This virus is being talked about, is it a good time to talk about it now? You and I?’

“I’d do it not when it’s close to bedtime, you don’t want them going to bed worried. Do it during the day, when there’s plenty of time for thoughts to percolate through and if they have more questions later on, they have time to ask.

“In terms of setting, you’re much better doing it at home if you can rather than while out shopping or when you’re driving, because you can sit down, see the child’s response, see whether they’re getting agitated or if they’re looking really worried. If you’re doing it while you’re driving or somewhere else, you won’t necessarily pick up on those cues so your child will still be worried about it,” he said.

“You want to be factual, and you want treat it seriously. You want an ordinary level tone, you don’t want to say: ‘Everything’s going to be dreadful’ or ‘Everything’s going to be fine.’ Your child knows neither of those is true, you’re better to just be factual but be positive. Tell them that provided we’re careful and wash our hands, we should be okay.”

Talk about social media

“Tell your children that if they’re worried about things they’ve seen on social media, they should come and talk to you. And secondly, if someone contacts them on social media because they have the infection or they’re worried about something, they should come and talk to you rather than feeling they’ve got to take responsibility for someone else.

“All the time it’s: ‘Come back and talk to us.’ You’re making it so your child feels they’re not going to be treated as though they’re silly and you’re not making judgements about them. You’re on their side and will listen to what they have to say, so they’ll come and talk to you about what they’re worried about which is a much better place to be than children keeping it quiet.

How much should you tell your child about your worries?

“The adults need to deal with the adult things, and the children shouldn’t be involved in doing that. If you’re worried about your parents, their grandparents, you could mention to your children: ‘I’m a bit worried about Nana and Grandad – we might need to spend a bit of time with them.’ You wouldn’t be talking about your fears the health service isn’t working because you’re going to give them fears they won’t understand or know how to deal with. As much as possible, you don’t expose children to adult fears and anxieties,” Peter advised.

How to help a child who’s really worrying

“Sit them down, ask what it is they’re actually worried about. Quite often it’s misunderstandings more than anything else. Once you know the actual worry they’ve got, you can go through what’s real and what’s not real and make sure they do know the facts.

“It’s a bit like a cracked record, you just have to keep offering reassurance. The likelihood is that they’re going to be worrying about parents dying (in which case they’d be abandoned) or that they’re going to become really ill and they’re not going to recover.

“Talk to them about the eventuality of them becoming ill – tell them you’d look after them and that there’s medical support out there. And if they’re worrying about you, their parents, tell them you’re looking after yourself and keeping yourself safe. Tell them that even if something were to happen to mum or dad there would always be people here to make sure they’re okay. Keep reassuring them that everything’s going to be okay.

“Parents don’t know that for certain, but if children are worried, don’t give them any other anxieties,” Peter said.

Don’t be hard on yourself

“As a parent, you just have to do as well as you can. There’s no perfect way of doing it. There’s no judgement made against it. You’re doing the best you can, sometimes you’ll get it wrong, a lot of times you’ll get it right. If you feel you need help, make sure you do speak to partners, friends, parents to get the reassurance you need,” Peter said.

“These are unique times, we haven’t got much of a history we can look back over the past 20 or 30 years where other people know what to do. So everybody is anxious and unsure about what’s going to happen. What generally helps when you have worries is talking about it. You won’t necessarily get all of the answers but by doing this you put your worries into a more realistic frame. When you start saying it out loud you realise how much of it is just anxiety.”

Be prepared for more change

“Things are going to change, for instance if schools close. You’re going to have children at home, away from their friends. Children will probably be using social media much more because they’re going to be bored and want contact with their friends during that time,” Peter said.

“You might want to make it a daily check in, asking: ‘How are you and your friends?’ so that you can keep on top of what’s going on. If there are any underlying fears or worries it comes out more naturally.”

Coronavirus: how to self-isolate and not fall out with your friends and family

Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak is leaving many of us feeling anxious about reducing social contact and self-isolating, and what that could mean. Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through this time but healthy relationships tend to need space and outside interests to thrive. As we’re being told to reduce social contact dramatically and as more of us need to self-isolate, this is likely to be tricky, putting our home life under added pressure.

Talk about your feelings

Staying at home may leave you feeling worried about all sorts of things like getting paid, how older relatives are coping and being plain bored. It can really help to talk about your concerns together.

You might choose to start each day with a quick wellbeing check-in. That way everyone knows how others are doing and can consider this when around them.

It also helps to limit the amount of time you spend discussing coronavirus, so you focus on other things. Of course, if one of you has symptoms but others don’t, it will be important to follow government guidance when doing your check-ins to decrease the chances of passing the infection on.

Be considerate

When somebody expresses a concern about coronavirus, or any other issue, listen to them and try to understand how they’re feeling. Avoid saying things like “you’re over-reacting” or using catastrophising language which could raise other people’s anxiety levels. If somebody is ill or is anxious about coronavirus, avoid bringing up other tricky issues unless really necessary. If somebody is worried, listen to their specific concerns and research the facts together. Do consider the ages of your children when choosing what to discuss with them.

Use technology to keep in touch

While you won’t be able to visit friends or hang out in public places during self-isolation, it’s still possible to keep in touch thanks to technology. Video calling friends, relatives and colleagues is about as close to face-to-face interaction as you can get in these circumstances. Consider picking up the phone for a chat where you may have otherwise sent a message.

If you’re getting frustrated with others in the house, it might be an idea to share how you’re feeling with a friend. This will increase your sense of involvement with others and may help to make the situation at home feel a little less claustrophobic.

Pause before you react

The reality of staying at home with others for days on end is that somebody will probably do or say something to annoy you at some point or you could of course do the same to others. It could be something simple or it could be related to existing issues between you and another family member that have been brought to the surface by current concerns.

Bearing in mind staying at home so much may be stressful in itself, try not to “react” to what might seem like a careless comment or perhaps implied criticism of some sort. If something gets to you, take some time out before responding. Even taking some deep breaths and counting to ten can prevent minor differences from becoming major blow-ups.

Choose your battles wisely and try and weigh up if, for now, the most important thing is to support each other to get through these tough times rather than creating further tensions about something that is perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, not that important and could wait until there’s a better time to discuss it.

In these challenging times, making the most of every form of support will be essential.

In the same way that keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues will be important, if you feel like getting some extra relationship support might be a good idea, Relate MTB offers web counselling via Zoom.

Relationship problems during Covid-19 isolation

Relate MTB is open for web-counselling during the Covid-19 restrictions and our team of professional counsellors have put together essential tips to support your relationships during the isolation period.

We are continuing to provide counselling sessions to couples, families and individuals using a secure and confidential online platform so do not hesitate to get in touch through the contact page on our website or by emailing 

Follow our Facebook page for more tips from our counsellors.

Advice from Relate MTB

Things were bad enough before! If your relationship was under strain already, understand that being together in the same home may bring problems to the surface. Our relationship counselling via webcam could help you work through things, email for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

‘We can’t stop arguing!’ – if you have been arguing over a particular issue, consider calling a truce during this period to make living under one roof more bearable. The chances are you are spending a lot more time together than ever before and that can be an additional strain as well as a benefit. The National Relate website has tips on how to deal with arguments.

Feeling overwhelmed – these are really tough times and it is OK to feel overwhelmed, frightened for those you love and anxiety over what the future holds. Try to understand that you and your partner may have different worries and priorities. Set aside time for cosy and calm chats, agreeing that you can talk honestly about your worries, acknowledging that you each may have differing priorities at this time. Pick up the phone to supportive friends and family and share your feelings for mutual support.

Struggling to adapt to the new routine – whether you live alone, as a couple or with your children these strange times feel uncertain for everyone. Have an open discussion about how your new routine is working for each person, remembering to listen as well as to talk, and encourage each member of the household to have their say, without judgement or criticism. Agree to re-visit the discussion after a few days or a week. Taking your exercise separately can give you time to yourself.

Your new working environment – working alongside each other in close confinement, perhaps for the first time, can be an opportunity or a challenge. We may act differently in our normal work environment to the way we behave at home. Your hours might be different, so be careful to respect times when your partner is working and you are not. Discuss between you whether you prefer to assign one room as the ‘office’ or use separate rooms, keep the topic open and be flexible about trying different arrangements to find one that works well for you both.

A busy working-from-home office – if you have adult children working at home it can be quite eye-opening to witness their professional persona, an opportunity to find a new respect for them. Try not to eavesdrop if possible and avoid judging or criticising them in their work but do remember to express praise and admiration in general terms.

How are your juggling skills? Teacher, parent, worker, housekeeper, carer, cook! It is difficult to think of more stressful circumstances than at the present time. Every day we are expected to juggle so many demanding roles and all the while cooped up together and without external help. Don’t have unrealistic expectations, be flexible and be kind to each other. Share roles and tasks, build in breaks for yourselves and grab time to relax together when possible.

Keep communicating – don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling, to each other and to trusted friends and family. There is so much help available online from professionals who understand and can support us all in through this difficult time. The feedback from our clients who have now transferred to web-counselling is that their experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Email us at for more information and visit our website to find out about our services.

More tips from our counsellors will be shared on our Facebook page.

Support from councillors in South Bucks & Chilterns



Grants from South Bucks District Council and Chiltern District Council have supported local residents in accessing vital support over the last year.

Contributions from our Bursary Funding Scheme make up the difference between what local residents can afford to pay and the actual cost of delivering skilled relationship counselling to improve their emotional and mental well-being.

Chilterns District Council awarded a £1,400 grant and South Bucks £1,000 to support counselling costs for residents living within each area.

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director, said: “Relationship counselling plays such an important role in strengthening individuals, families and therefore communities and we are grateful for the support that councillors and their grants teams in South Bucks and Chilterns have given not just this past year but over a number of years.

“In such uncertain times emotional and financial pressures increase, especially on the most vulnerable. Our counsellors provide crucial support, teaching lifelong skills that branch out into every area of people’s lives, improving personal, workplace and social relationships.”

For more information on the wide range of counselling services available visit



2020 update from Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire

We are delighted to update you at the beginning of what is already becoming a very busy year and to thank you, as a valued supporter, on behalf of all our clients, counsellors, admin team and trustees, for your continuing help.

In a bustling 2019 we expanded not only the services we provide but also the locations where we offer them.

Welcoming the Edward Gostling Foundation to our Maidenhead office with Cllr Phil Haseler, our new Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead representative.

Particular highlights are being able to offer funded counselling for cancer patients, their partners and families – thanks to Macmillan Cancer Care in Buckinghamshire and to the Edward Gostling Foundation and Louis Baylis Charitable Trust in Berkshire, and to the specialist training provided for our counsellors by Macmillan. We continue to apply to local charitable organisations to support this important work.

We also won a contract to deliver part of the ‘Parenting Together Support Programme’ funded by the Department of Work & Pensions. Working in a consortium with two Relate London centres we deliver mentalization therapy to reduce parental conflict in unemployed and vulnerable families in the Bucks area.

We know how important it is to our clients, particularly those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, to be able to access local counselling and so we are pleased to now offer new venues in Chalfont St Peter and at Chiltern Hills Academy in Chesham.

We have made a very a positive start to the year by welcoming four Relate student counsellors who have joined the centre on placement alongside their Institute of Family Therapy Relationship Counselling Training. We have also welcomed three new Trustees, including our new Treasurer, Michael.

In 2019 we were very grateful to receive donations from new funders, including the Rothschild Foundation, Edward Gostling Foundation and the WHSmith Community grant scheme. We are very appreciative of the continued support of the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council, Aylesbury Vale & District Council, Heart of Bucks Community Foundation, Macmillan and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Behind the scenes we once again passed the stringent BACP accreditation process and we have re-arranged our admin office to improve efficiency, the working environment of our Maidenhead admin team and counsellors and to improve our service to clients.

These improvements are helping us to manage the significant increase in demand for our services that we have seen in the past four months, fuelled by financial uncertainty and the emotional pressures of Christmas and New Year.

None of this would be possible without your support and in return we would be delighted to welcome you to visit us to hear more about our developing service and to fully appreciate the difference that your support makes.
Please email our Centre Director

Thank you again for your vital help in making such an important difference to our local communities and to the well-being of local people and families.


Janice Campbell, Chair, Relate MTB

January 2020




Rothschild Foundation supports counselling in Aylesbury

The Rothschild Foundation is helping families, couples and individuals in the Aylesbury area to have healthy, happy relationships by awarding a grant to Relate Mid Thames & Buckinghamshire’s local counselling service.

The £5,000 grant, continuing the philanthropic tradition of the Rothschild family, will support the charity’s professional counsellors to serve disadvantaged people within the local community, providing a high quality, reliable and confidential service for people who are feeling isolated and vulnerable.

In 2018-19 Relate MTB delivered 3,867 counselling sessions, supporting 1,715 people across the Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire area we serve. Of these, 842 appointments were held at our Aylesbury counselling centre, which is being supported by the Rothschild Foundation grant.

Relate MTB relies on charitable donations

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director of Relate MTB, says: “We are very grateful to the Rothschild Foundation for their generous support. It means so much to us, as a small charity reliant on charitable grants, to have our local service acknowledged by such a well-respected organisation.

“We have operated in Aylesbury for several decades and we have in-depth knowledge of the pressures on relationships for local individuals, couples and families. Our wide-ranging and accessible counselling services teach life-long relationship and communication skills, supporting community cohesion and benefiting social welfare and wider society.”

Wide range of counselling to support local people

Relate MTB is based in Pebble Lane and offers a wide range of counselling for relationships, families, Armed Forces through the RAF Benevolent Fund, cancer patients through Macmillan Cancer Care, couple therapy for depression (IAPT) and psychosexual therapy. Our Bursary Funding Scheme can meet the difference between the cost of counselling sessions and the amount people are able to afford to pay.

In the past four months we have seen a significant increase in demand for counselling, fuelled by financial uncertainty and the pressures of Christmas and New Year on relationships.

If you know of a charitable organisation that would like to find out more about supporting Relate MTB, please email

Follow Relate MTB on Facebook

Louis Baylis Trust boosts counselling for local cancer patients

Relate MTB’s funded counselling for Berkshire cancer patients has been boosted by a £2,000 grant from the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust.

This specialist relationship and emotional counselling supports cancer patients, their partners and family through a stressful time, helping people to negotiate the emotional minefield of cancer treatment, filling a gap in psychological services.

Improving well-being and promoting recovery

Delivered by our counsellors who have received additional specialist training from Macmillan Nurses, sessions offer patients improved personal relationships, well-being and promote recovery. They provide psychological support to manage the difficulties and problems caused by illness and treatment, to come to terms with living with cancer, the impacts of treatment and life beyond cancer.

This comment from a recent client demonstrates the difference this counselling makes: “My six funded sessions have really helped me cope with my cancer diagnosis. I feel I have been able to process my thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. I’m not sure where I would be without these sessions but know I am in a better place because of them.”

Meeting the demand for specialist counselling

Fiona Greenfield, Centre Director at Relate MTB, says: “We are very grateful to The Louis Baylis Charitable Trust for granting £2,000 towards providing funded counselling for cancer patients in Berkshire. They join the Edward Gostling Foundation in supporting this vital, local service and we are in the process of applying to other local charitable organisations to ensure that we can continue to meet the demand”.

“Our clients referred during or after cancer treatment identify financial anxiety as an additional stress on their relationships during their treatment which is why we feel fully funding counselling is vital”.

How to refer

Patients can self-refer, by calling Relate MTB on 01628 625320; by emailing

or through our website contact page

CNSs (Clinical Nursing Specialists) can also send referrals to us using the same contact details.

One assessment appointment and up to five counselling sessions are covered, these are held in either Maidenhead or Windsor.

If you know of a charitable organisation that would like to find out more about supporting RelateMTB, please email

Follow RelateMTB on Facebook


Don’t Disappear – video to raise awareness of coercive control

On the 5th November 2019, The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) launched a video  ‘Don’t Disappear’ to raise awareness of relationship abuse.   This follows their ‘Know this isn’t Love’ campaign on coercive control from earlier in the year.  It was launched under the branding of Victims First.  Victims First supports victims and witnesses of crime across the Thames Valley and is managed by the OPCC.

‘Don’t Disappear’ tells the story of Jamie and Emma; from the seemingly loving early stages of their relationship, to the development of coercive and controlling behaviours such as jealousy and possessiveness, control, love bombing and isolation.

While anyone of any age can be a victim of coercive control, the video is targeted at younger people who have less relationship experience and people who are at the beginning of a relationship.  The aim of the video is to raise awareness of  the red flags – the early signs of coercive control which at the time, may be missed or misinterpreted as acceptable behaviour in a relationship, and where necessary signpost people to support.

The video can be viewed on YouTube

To view more information on the campaign, including the ‘Know this isn’t love’ materials please view the Victim’s First website here:

Don’t let the ghosts of Christmas past haunt your relationship this year

“The impact of Christmas on a relationship is massive,” warns a Relate MTB counsellor. “And with the Christmas build-up starting earlier every year the stress starts early too.”

As Christmas lights are switched on and our ‘to do’ lists grow longer, Relate MTB’s expert counsellors offer 5 easy tips to ensure that the ghosts of your Christmas past don’t ruin Christmas present.

Just like the three ghosts in Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol, our counsellors have identified three potential pitfalls for couples – whether it is your first Christmas together or whether you need to bury the memories of disastrous festivities last Christmas, couples often have clashing hopes from Christmas, either repeating previous happy memories or avoiding past disasters.

  • Money – how much is it acceptable to spend and on what?
  • Families & friends – who do you each want to spend Christmas with, and for how long? Your expectations may differ and your in-laws might have different expectations too. This can be a notoriously tricky area for new couples, newly-weds and new parents.
  • Alcohol – too much Christmas cheer can cause Christmas misery, whether you or your partner over indulges or whether your guests’ or hosts’ drinking causes embarrassing, hurtful or violent behaviour.

The solution to all three is to start a conversation about Christmas early, says Relate MTB counsellor ‘Wendy’*.

“It always comes down to better communicating,” she says. “But make sure you start the conversation well in advance and tackle one issue at a time. Plans get locked down earlier than ever and then people can feel trapped.”

Relate MTB’s Top Tips for Christmas present:

  1. Never agree an arrangement until you have discussed it with your partner; never assume it is what you both want.
    Counsellor’s advice: A useful response to an invitation to spend Christmas Day is ‘That sounds really interesting, thanks for the invitation, let me check and get back to you’. This gives you time to discuss what you both want and to think of a strategy if you don’t want to accept. That might be ‘We would love to come to you at 4pm’ rather than committing to the whole day.
  2. Ask an open question. This is especially important for parents whose adult children are in a new relationship, newly-weds or new parents.

Counsellor’s advice: Instead of saying ‘Come and spend Christmas Day with us,’ ask ‘What would you like to do for Christmas this year?’ And suggest they talk it over and call you back later with a response. If you are going to reject an invitation, work out a kind strategy together. If you have always spent Christmas Day with your mum and dad or in-laws but would prefer to do your own thing, why not suggest a compromise this year leading up to a complete change next year?

  1. Discuss what makes Christmas special for you.

Counsellor’s advice: This should be your first conversation – the earlier the better. Is it about putting your feet up and not going anywhere? Or is it about going to as many parties as possible and seeing all your friends? Or perhaps spending time with family and having active days out? Who loves to welcome everyone around for food, drink and games and who wants to shut the front door and chill out? Discussing this early allows you to fulfil Christmas for both of you – even if it means building in some time apart to do your own thing.

  1. Agree a budget in advance.

Counsellor’s advice: Money can be a huge pressure, children have high expectations and we feel the need to spend a lot, regardless of whether we can afford to. It’s a common difference in couples for one to be a natural saver and the other a natural spender and that gets exacerbated at Christmas. Again, have a conversation early on about what you can afford, work out a strategy such as giving home-made presents to relatives and agreeing a limit on what you will spend on gifts for people. The secret is to talk about it before it becomes an area of conflict.

  1. Get out in the fresh air whatever the weather.

Counsellor’s advice: Something as simple as changing the setting can ease tensions. Unless you are working over Christmas, you are likely to be cooped up together 24/7, often with extra guests too, the kids are off school and all normal routine stops. It’s the worst time of year for weather, the days are short and it is easy to feel trapped so wrap up warm and take the whole family out for a long walk, whatever the weather.

Open, honest, non-judgmental conversations are the key to a happy relationship – and not just at Christmas time. Relate MTB provides a safe space with an expert relationship counsellor to talk about your feelings, your past experiences and how they affect you emotionally. Why not treat each other to a relationship MOT this Christmas? Visit  or call Relate MTB on 01628 625320 to make an appointment.