Utter the word Relate and people may have a vague guess the organisation is concerned with family matters.
Close enough, as it is a facilitation and reconciliation service for people who are suffering relationship breakdowns.
Relate began life in London as the Marriage Guidance Council (MGC) and was set up by a clergyman, Dr Herbert Gray in 1938.
It was probably a huge step at the time to even admit that marriages had problems and came in good time to assist with the traumas and hardships caused by the Second World War.
By the 1950s, the MGC began to be recognised as a national institution and on Valentine’s Day 1988 it was relaunched as Relate to acknowledge the changing nature of relationships – such as cohabiting couples, same sex couples and the needs of and pressures on single people, children, young people and families.
Relate Central, based in Doncaster, is the main headquarters and various areas across the UK have regional centres that work like franchises and have to maintain strict and rigorous standards and training to be able to use the Relate name.
Relate Lancashire, located in Navigation Way, Preston, works with Barnardo’s, schools, colleges, the courts, Social Services, the police and various other organisations to provide a variety of services for couples and families.
These include: counselling for children and young people who may be struggling with issues of self esteem or bullying or the effects of parental strife; single people who may be suffering from bereavement or image or sexual issues; couples with relationship problems; parents with relationship problems with their children/step children; domestic abuse – working with perpetrators and providing support for victims.
Prema Taylor, a retired lawyer, has been a trustee for Lancashire Relate for three years.
She says: “As a retired lawyer who started out in the field of family law I have seen the devastation caused by relationship break-ups and the horrors of domestic violence. The ripple effect of these sad situations spread far wider than can be imagined and I believe the counselling offered by Relate can go along way to mending relationships or easing the pain of relationship breakdown.
“Where there is domestic abuse we can help the perpetrators by working with them to help them to recognise and control the issues that trigger their outbursts, and with the victims by offering them support and counselling too.
“The fabric of a healthy, happy, successful society depends on healthy, happy, successful relationships. Sadly, not all relationships and lifestyles are successful and whatever Relate Lancashire can do to help people going through difficult times is very important to all members. That is why I chose to volunteer for Relate Lancashire.
“If a relationship cannot be saved then counselling is available to achieve an amicable or at least civilised separation. We attempt to resolve issues or at least to limit the damage and hurt which may have been caused by a relationship breakdown.
“Relate is a registered charity and we are dependant on grants from local authorities and other private organisations.
“We operate as a not for profit organisation and our premises, telephone and other utilities, counsellors and administrative staff have to be paid for.
“We are therefore unable offer a completely free counselling service but do our best to assist clients with financial difficulties and provide services such as the domestic abuse perpetrator programme free of charge.”