Service User Forum


Engaging with adult clients who use any of the services provided by Sunderland Counselling Service

By clicking on the sections below you can find information about our ongoing client forums.

Our next meeting shall take place around May 2024, please get in touch if you have used our service and would like to attend.

A client who attended the service user forum said:

‘I think it was great to be involved and I always felt welcomed by everyone and that my feedback was valued and acted upon’


You Said - We did

Following feedback in our Service User forum - we have made the following changes:

  • Sought further funding for our cancer service and we can now work with carers as well as patients.
  • We reduced how long someone will need to wait to rerefer for further support from 3 months down to 1 month
  • Updated our literature for the Cancer Counselling Service and provided feedback to the hospital about what further support people need at the time of a diagnosis from medical professionals.
  • All of our service leaflets were updated to make them more user friendly and appeal to the people who need to access our service
  • We now have a social media presence

Objectives of Client Forum:

  • To consider client feedback and identify opportunities for improvement in our services
  • To consider and improve our service literature, website and marketing / publicity materials
  • To review our policies and procedures.
  • To review proposals for service changes, development of new or extended services and identification of any unmet needs.
  • To provide input into funding bids and service development / design and explore ways to improve and widen access to our services.
  • To consider ways in which clients can become more involved in the operations of SCS, such as involvement in recruitment, involvement in training as experts by experience or representing the organisation externally.

It is important to state that the forum will be advisory in nature. SCS values the input of all clients and staff but is under no obligation to act on any or all recommendations or proposals from the forum. SCS does, however, commit to consider and respond to all recommendations

The forum is not:

  • A support group – any clients joining the forum need to be able to take care of themselves and contribute appropriately to the forum.
  • An appreciation society – SCS needs a healthy balance between due praise and constructive challenge.
  • An exclusive or elite group – SCS is mindful that the group should be representative of our varied client groups.
  • A way to gain rights or privileges around accessing and approaching the service.
  • A forum to pursue complaints or compliments about the service provided to individuals – any complaints / compliments received should be dealt with via the relevant procedures.


  • The Service User Forum will meet quarterly.
  • Working groups will be established as necessary and frequency of meetings agreed.
  • Meetings will be advertised at least one month in advance.


  • The SCS Client Engagement Forum will be chaired by the Chief Executive (or a nominated deputy).
  • SCS Clinical Lead.
  • SCS Service Manager.
  • Attendance will be invited from any current or past client of SCS who has either started or completed therapy with the service.
  • Clients who are on a waiting list only will not be able to attend as their experience of using the service will be limited at that stage.
  • Clients who are on a waiting list for a second or subsequent episode of treatment will be able to join the forum, on the basis that they have received a service from SCS.

Further information:

  • Participants do not need to commit to attend multiple meetings
  • Each meeting is an open group
  • Participants must sign up to the forum in advance
  • The forum will be publicised in advance and an agenda produced.
  • The agenda will always include space for any other business so that participants have the opportunity to raise any issues that are not already covered.
  • If participants wish to remain as members of the forum once they have finished using our services will be welcome to do so
  • A representative of Sunderland Counselling Service board of trustees will attend the forum at least twice a year.
  • A representative of the forum will be invited to attend board meetings at least twice a year.

For more information or to become a member of this group, please email or call 0191 5147007.


A simple group agreement will be prepared in advance of the first meeting and agreed at the first meeting to clarify the expectations and responsibilities of all present. This will be displayed and reviewed at each meeting.


Date approved by Sunderland Counselling Service Board: 27th February 2020

Date for review: 26th February 2021

Aims of Client Forum:

  • To engage with adult clients who use any of the services provided by Sunderland Counselling Service and to improve our communication with our clients.
  • To benefit from clients’ experience of using our services so that we can improve the quality of our service delivery.
  • To draw on the range of clients’ expertise to assist the development of the organisation.
  • To encourage the participation of our clients more meaningfully in the organisation.
  • To reflect and demonstrate our commitment to our clients expressed in the BACP Ethical Framework.