The Spark (previously Scottish Marriage Care) promotes lifelong learning in the realm of relationships and offers its expertise to the whole community.
The Spark is a voluntary organisation with over thirty years experience in the specialist field of relationship counselling. A registered charity, we provide a professional service to the whole community, delivered in local centres throughout Scotland. Our current service and training portfolio consists of:
- Relationship counselling for couples and individuals; Appointments: 0808 802 2088
- Courses in relationship skills for couples preparing for marriage including the use of FOCCUS;
- Training and educational initiatives in relationship and communications skills;
- University accredited counsellor training;
- Accredited supervisor training;
- Accredited training for trainers;
- Supervision of counsellors;
- Supervisor, counsellor and trainer in-service training;
- Delivery of training to external agencies/organisations;
- Provision of consultancy services.
Our counselling and relationship services are available to the whole community. They are delivered in Scottish Marriage Care local centres in the following locations across Scotland: Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Motherwell and Paisley. We also provide counselling in the following areas: Inverness, Kilmarnock, Kilwinning, Saltcoats and Stirling.
In addition, we anticipate offering skills-based relationship courses in local communities as well as in central locations. By helping to make a real difference to couples’ relationships, our service also positively impacts on all aspects of clients’ lives, including, children of the relationship, the extended family, employers and the wider community.
1. Counsellors and other volunteers
The Spark consists of approximately 130 volunteers of which 100+ are counsellors supported by voluntary management and administration support staff. Our counsellors undergo a rigorous selection process and complete a two-year course leading to a university qualification in relationship counselling. A comprehensive national in-service training programme is provided to enable counsellors to continue to develop their skills. Counsellors also undertake ongoing supervision of their practice.
2. Operation and Cost of Counselling Services
Relationship Counselling - The Spark counsellors initially contract with clients to provide six counselling sessions. This is then evaluated and more sessions will be contracted if necessary. During these sessions clients are supported and challenged to set goals that will help them make changes in their life or situation. Specifically, we offer the following, within the context of relationship counselling:
- A professionally trained counsellor;
- Unconditional acceptance;
- The opportunity to explore issues;
- Personal growth and development;
- Practice in problem solving strategies;
- The opportunity to make changes.
The counselling session is free of charge but clients who are able to do so are encouraged to contribute towards the cost.
Courses in relationship skills for couples preparing for marriage. Presently we are planning to introduce FOCCUS, relationship inventories based on those
used widely in the United States. These have been shown to produce quite startling results in the reduction of divorce and separation.
3. Addressing Current Issues
- Social Inclusion: The Spark offers its professional service free to the whole community without reservation of colour, creed, culture, sexual orientation, social status or ability to pay. We encourage clients to make suitable donations in keeping with their income. Counsellors commit totally in working with clients to achieve the best possible outcome and are often able to identify strengths, talents, abilities and potential in clients which they were unaware of before counselling.
- Poverty: people in the lower income levels have a higher risk of marriage and relationship breakdown. The need for a voluntary organisation like The Spark offering the professional service we do is crucial. We do, however, need public funding to publicise our services and to make them available in many more locations.
- Domestic Violence: Many of our clients have experienced domestic violence. Much of our work would involve helping clients to identify the roots of their aggressive reactions and to carefully consider the triggers and responses which decrease and increase this tendency. Communication skills are modelled and taught throughout the counselling process.
- Lifelong Learning: Counselling and skills courses are ultimately about learning, learning about self, about others and about the behaviour that results. Raised awareness and the acquisition of skills in relationships has the power to transform individuals, couples and families. With wider publicity and wider availability of services, the rate of marriage and relationship breakdown could be greatly reduced.
4. Financial Support
The Spark is grateful for the financial support of the Scottish Executive Justice Department, The National Lotteries Board, the Catholic Church in Scotland, Lloyds TSB, and many charitable trusts as well as client donations. We would welcome enquiries from organisations or individuals who may be interested in developing partnership workings, donating funds, or sponsoring a particular project or local centre.
How to Contact