The innovation of Crisis was to utilize its founders' previous expertise and provide a counseling service that was affordable for all and caught those “who fall through the nets.” Crisis aims to remove the time and geographical restrictions that public bodies face and to ensure that patients are helped back to full health. Following on, Crisis provides its services to a range of people from children, to military personnel, to migrants.
Glasgow Caledonian University
The innovation of Crisis began when Jean Cumming began utilizing skills she had previously developed as an NHS Health Manager to help those who were forgotten. Crisis provides a counseling service that is affordable and readily available to all, throughout Scotland and beyond. A key characteristic of this innovation is its ability to perform on a larger scale and assist other third sector businesses because they “don’t have...professional barriers with each other,” which allows for skill-sharing. Jean exemplified this scalability by explaining their influence in creating a similar service for Belfast Office and providing aid in the wake of the Zeebrugge disaster. Crisis has also created training programs for employers, who can provide help to their staff when needed.
Crisis's key innovation is their provision of a counseling service to all who require it and in a timely manner. The primary SDG that it aims to solve is: Good Health and Wellbeing. Counseling is made available to all comers with a nominal price of“£5 for low income, the unemployed or children.”
Crisis aims also promotes “decent work and economic growth.” By providing support to everyone, Jean explains that this gets “key people back to the workplace.” The result of this support allows the global workforce’s skillset to be enhanced, thus facilitating economic growth.
Crisis was created in 1996 by Jean Cumming, an NHS health manager who had been inspired to take action to reduce the number of suicides which committed near the Erskine Bridge area of Glasgow. “We sometimes had two suicides a day in this area, the problem got so big that it wasn’t even reported anymore.” Working within the community close-by to the Erskine Bridge, Jean witnessed the lack of support for individuals with mental illnesses and the devastation that this caused for families.
After Jean lost her brother to suicide, it inspired her to make a difference for people experiencing mental illness. “I had lost my brother; my brother was in the Navy for twenty-five years and he became alcoholic because it was so easy to drink in the navy. He did not make a good transition from the Navy to civilian life, he lost a role, he lost his identity, and he just couldn’t cope.” Jean’s brother’s death resonated with her as she realized there was a severe lack of mental health support for people, especially those who had served in the military.
The lack of interim reporting also motivated Jean as this was allowing mental health issues to deteriorate before individuals received support. “…there was no interim report system at all. Children had absolutely nothing at all… So in my wisdom, I thought I could become a counsellor.”
Crisis provides counseling services for a diverse range of clients through their contracts with both private and public sector organizations. Before Crisis was established there was no suitable support network for those most in need. Crisis’ services provide “early intervention for as long as needed and… when you need it.” Where previously, people did not receive intervention before there mental health issues were “too embedded and there was sometimes no reversal.” Crisis has seen 46,000 patients since they were established; without Crisis’ services these patients may not have received the appropriate support to help improve their mental health, which would further contribute high rates of suicide in the area where Crisis operates.
Crisis services have had a positive, lasting impact on their patients, Jean emphasizes that through providing the appropriate support for those in need they have contributed “healthier communities and healthier families” who previously may have been fragmented due to lack of an appropriate support network. Through the support of Crisis many patients are now able to return to work and support their families, demonstrating the lasting impact that their services can have on the patients that they engage with.
Crisis is continually growing and positively impacting the lives of more and more patients. Since the 5th of January 2018, Crisis has received 307 referrals. In the previous year, there were a total 1679 referrals. Without Crisis, these patients may not have received the appropriate support for their condition and “[fallen] through the net.”
In 21 years of operation, Crisis Counseling has positively impacted 46,000 people throughout Scotland. In order to cater to this number of clients, Crisis employs 93 counsellors across the country to accommodate those in need, regardless of their lotion. Jean said most of the counsellors “just don’t leave,” with some staying as long as 17 years. This means a number of different specialities are covered by the organization, maximizing services offered.
The organization started out, as Jean puts it “with £100 to register the company” and from sticking to its mission, has garnered success. Last year, Crisis had turnover of more than £156,000, representing an increase of 34% in 4 years. An impressive figure for an organization providing counseling services to those who need it most for £5 per session. To make this possible, the organization generates revenue from elsewhere. This is mainly from their Employee Assistance Services, which includes employee support, counseling and training of employees. Other sources of funding, like donations allow the organization to avoid relying on government support which could end and leave a company stranded.
Going forward, Jean wants to continue with the past success and ensure everyone needing help gets it. One plan to do this is the development of a Skype room, allowing for counsellors to work on site with people from around the world. According to Jean, this can allow for a steady income to maintain counsellor’s wages, whilst providing further support to those who need it in more locations.
Crisis Counseling is approved by The Social Enterprise Mark, which is the sole internationally accessible social enterprise certification, allowing credible enterprises to verify that they put the attentions of people and planet before shareholder profit. Thus, demonstrating that Crisis has delivered promising influences to society and the environment throughout its effective 21 years in operation.
Respecting societal benefits, Jean highlighted the organization's aims for “healthier communities and healthier families” indicating that by supporting one individual in a family, the entire family is assisted, which has a further positive effect on the whole community. Attention is placed on helping key individuals proceed back in to the workplace, hence resulting in economic growth. One of the issues in particular that crisis helps families deal with is the process of gender transition.
Across the organizations’ operations, Crisis is working to improve its environmental impact. Firstly, Crisis makes a conscious effort to reduce its carbon footprint by distributing clients to employees in the same region in order to decrease unnecessary travel. When citing cables Crisis worked with the Forestry Commission to have tree surgeons assisted in situating Crisis’s the phone lines and avoided harming trees, helping to preserve Life on Land. Furthermore, Crisis participates in basic recycling procedures in order to positively influence the environment. According to Jean, every decision made by Crisis considers how the organization can reduce or eliminate undesirable environmental impacts.
Jean Cumming, Mrs
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Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Business Website: http://www.crisiscounselling.co.uk/
Year Founded: 1996
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Crisis in an early intervention counseling service for clients from all over Scotland. They help people of all ages to attain better mental health. As a Social Enterprise, they are not dependent on grants for funding. Instead, their main source of funding comes from contracts with companies, which then subsidizes their services to individual clients who otherwise would not be able to afford this level counseling. Since forming twenty-one years ago, Crisis has helped over forty-six thousand people.