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Dimplex helps create a more therapeutic space

Basildon Listening Post PLXE case study

Based in the Laindon Centre, Basildon, Essex, the Listening Post C.I.C (Community Interest Company) is a not for profit business offering counselling services to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the local community.

“We set up because there was a real need,” says Alison Cunningham MBACP, Counsellor and Director, Listening Post CIC. “Basildon is one of the most deprived districts in Essex, inextricably linking it with mental health issues.  The challenge was how support could be made accessible to everyone and start to break down the stigma around mental health.”

Outside of the NHS there are not many places people can access counselling, and those that do use the NHS can find themselves on an 18 month waiting list for just six sessions of counselling.  “No matter the issue, no matter the background, we are in a position to offer both short and long term therapy,” says Alison. “For a lot of people, we find six sessions simply isn’t enough. In reality it can take three or four sessions for someone to trust you enough to start opening up.”

Since opening in November 2017, the Listening Post counsels more than 30 clients with numbers growing daily.  Clients contribute to their counselling based on a sliding scale, ensuring those on low income are not excluded. The Listening Post also runs community mental health workshops for those who want to learn more about their own mental health, who work in the profession or who care for others. 

“We don’t want our clients to be ashamed off recognising and dealing with a mental health issue and we wanted to promote community cohesion,” explains Alison. “That is why we wanted the centre to be very public.”  Located in the middle of the shopping centre, a formerly derelict retail unit was donated without rent or rates to create the Listening Post. “We had to remove all the shop fittings, and with donated construction materials and the help of the local schools the centre was created, all from a very community based approach.”

However, a major issued remained. “We found there was no heating within the premises.  This meant that in the mornings, you really couldn’t run a session because clients were either tense or distracted because they were so cold,” remembers Alison.  “It was getting very desperate for heating that wasn’t going to cost thousands to buy and run, and that would not take up too much of the room because space is at a premium.”

Alison approached the UK’s leading electric heating experts Dimplex for help. Having reviewed the layout of the Listening Post, Dimplex’s Heating Applications Design Department recommended installing four of the latest PLX150E electric panel heaters. One in the main reception/workshop area and one in each of the three counselling rooms.

The PLX150E is a smart, efficient electric panel heater with a space-saving slim line design, louvered grille and neutral white paint colour making an attractive addition to the rooms. Along with a powerful 1.5kW heat output, more than enough to quickly warm the Listening Post’s rooms, the PLXEs offer the latest intelligence in heating with open window detection and adaptive-start functionality, highly accurate electronic thermostat and a range of timer and continuous heat modes all easily managed from the touch sensitive control panel.

“The heaters get the room to a lovely temperature then switch on and off to maintain it,” observes Alison. “Not too hot, not too cold, it’s really comfortable.” This change was also noticed by the Listening Post’s clients who no longer mind coming along to appointments first thing in the morning. That has been a real advantage given the increasing demand for sessions, making scheduling and day to day operations at the Listening Post a lot easier. 

Creating a warm, comfortable environment in the counselling rooms is extremely important. The largest room is used for parents with young children. A mid-sized counselling space is used for one-to-ones and a small room is used for those clients with high anxiety or as a calming space for those who exhibit any distress during their session. Because the PLXEs are quiet they are not a distraction during these potentially difficult sessions.

“I’d actually expected there to be noise from the heaters, so that’s been a 100% bonus,” explains Alison. “If a client is quite awkward and doesn’t want to engage, they will look for anything that can act as a distraction. Because the heaters are quiet, its one less thing for them to latch onto. Overall, the Dimplex heaters have been fantastic, we could not have asked for better.”

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