Alison Towner and husband Carl tandem from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Charity!

Relate Nottinghamshire Clinical Supervisor, Alison Towner, and her husband, Carl, are taking on the challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats – on a tandem! They are raising money for International Nepal Fellowship and Relate Nottinghamshire. They begin their adventure on September 9th 2016.
Alison says: “I know the benefits of relationship counselling and feel strongly that it should be accessible to all, regardless of ability to pay. I hope people will give generously to raise money for our bursary fund, so Relate Nottinghamshire can offer reduced counselling fees to those on low incomes. It will be interesting to see what effect this tandem experience will have on our relationship!” We would love to raise a pound for each mile we cycle, which would mean £1055 according to our current plans – but could be more if we get lost!


Our Facebook group is:

 Donations can be made at:



Summer not so loving?

Relate counsellors at Relate Nottinghamshire are preparing themselves for an anticipated spike in calls this September in the immediate post-holiday period in line with national trends. Relate saw a nine per cent increase in calls last year and is ready for a similar onslaught this. Relate Nottinghamshire wants couples to be aware that as well as a break, holidays can be a difficult time. And it is offering tips to help couples cope with this.


Alison Towner, Clinical Supervisor for Relate Nottinghamshire said: “There is something psychological about September. Even though we’re not at school anymore the memory of fresh beginnings, a new satchel, pencil case and uniform is seared into us. We may make New Year’s resolutions but there’s something equally if not more profound about September. Often we invest it with more meaning. So though we may not make resolutions in the same way as on New Year’s Eve, we may still resolve to change a situation that’s been making us unhappy for some time. We do always see a spike in September and before that a bit of a lull in June, July and August when there isn’t the same focus.”


Relate centre’s across the country answered 19,527 calls in September – a nine per cent increase on the monthly average of 17,879 calls.


With so much investment in a holiday – emotional as well as financial – the levels of expectation can be very high and when that happens there may be, as with Christmas, a huge risk of disappointment. Some couples may think their holiday is a chance to sort things out but find they are unable to.


Alison added: “If one of you is unhappy you can be sure both of you are. We suggest couples use their holidays, if they can, to really talk to each other. See it as an opportunity. People may think they’re hearing their other half talking when in fact what they’re doing is tooling up their army with ready responses! Using terms such as, ‘I feel this…’ rather than, ‘You make me feel’ is a way to create a dialogue that doesn’t put someone on the defensive. It’s about owning your feelings rather than blaming someone else for them.”


Rather than just saying, “We need to talk,” counsellors at Relate Nottinghamshire suggest couples use the reflection technique so they really communicate. The couple face each other and take it in turns to talk for a few minutes about something on their mind. Their partner then reflects this back to them what they’ve said to show they’ve heard and understood. No advice is given, no contradiction. It’s a straightforward hearing exercise that can be very powerful. Counsellors suggest when doing this the first time couples pick an item or issue that isn’t the most important to them in order to get used to what may feel rather novel. So for example, talk about an annoyance at the shops or a minor issue at work rather than directly talking about the relationship straightaway. Then gradually build up to the big stuff. If you can do this exercise on a regular basis it can make an enormous difference.


Relate also gets a spike in calls in early January but couples are more likely to proceed with a divorce after the summer holiday than the Christmas break. September is a more energetic time of year whereas January can be very bleak and resources depleted after dealing with Christmas. The New Year spike can be a “get it off your chest” call or a cry for help. The September spike is potentially much more serious. Communicating with each other during the break may save some from the divorce courts afterwards.


However if a couple does decide to separate after their holiday they are still very welcome to contact Relate for help. Counsellors have a great deal of experience helping couples to separate as amicably as possible. “All the research tells us it’s not divorce itself that causes the greatest stress but how it’s carried out. Relate is there for people who do wish to split up. It needn’t be a catastrophe – happy parents apart are a lot better than unhappy parents together. But if you are going to separate after September, you need to recognise that you’ll be co-parenting from now on,” adds Alison Towner.


Relate offers information, advice and counselling for all stages of relationships, including family counselling which can include support for families and parenting.

BBC Radio 1/ 1xtra and BBC Radio 4 – Joint broadcast with Peter Saddington on young people and sex

BBC Radio 1/ 1xtra and BBC Radio 4 – Joint broadcast with Peter Saddington on young people and sex – 15th August at 5.30pm

There’s going to be a joint broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4 about on Monday 15th August live on air from 5.30-6pm about how young people are being affected by porn – in their relationships, the type of sex they’re having, and how they feel about themselves.  Relate counsellor and sex therapist, Peter Saddington is coming down to New Broadcasting House to appear on this programme.  Please do listen in if you can.

Clinical Supervisor at Nottinghamshire Relate, Peter Saddington interviews with The Times

“The new law of desire? Women are just as desperate for sex as men”

Relate counsellor, Peter Saddington spoke to The Times about a new study which has found the female libido is bigger than its given credit for. The findings come as no surprise to therapists. Peter Saddington, a counsellor and sexual therapist for Relate, says that when couples come for therapy and a separate history is taken of their sexual relationship, each partner is asked the same question: if this problem can be remedied how often ideally would you like the two of you to have sex? “Sometimes you will get a big disparity, but that’s unusual,” he says. “More often than not you will get a very similar answer.”  Saddington says that despite the messages of feminism many women, including young ones, still feel culturally uncomfortable about instigating sex within a couple. They still feel their role is to be “wooed” so they keep their desires hidden. “Men are more obvious and explicit when they are interested in being sexual,” he says. “Women aren’t always in the same way so men don’t see the signals and misconstrue.”

Breaking Point and Relationship Distress

Evidence shows that good quality relationships are central to good health and wellbeing – for adults and children – while distressed relationships are major risk factors for poor mental and physical health.

However, until now, we have lacked detailed national data on levels of relationship distress. This report provides new analysis of data from the Understanding Society survey to estimate the proportion and number of people nationally who are in relationships which would be characterised within clinical practice as ‘distressed’. It finds nearly 1-in-5 (18%) people (2.87 million) are in relationships which could be characterised as ‘distressed’.



Relate Nottinghamshire suggests relationship resolutions Mental Health Awareness Week 2016

Relate Nottinghamshire is encouraging people to make a relationship resolution in support of Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 16-22 May and is on the theme of relationships.

Relationships and wellbeing are closely linked – when asked by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) what matters most to our wellbeing, relationships with friends and family and health jointly topped the list (89%).

Mental Health Awareness Week organisers, The Mental Health Foundation, chose the theme of relationships to raise awareness of how fundamental they are to our wellbeing. If you make a relationship resolution through their website, such as calling an old friend for a chat each week, they will send you reminders so that you can keep your resolution on track.

Relate Counsellor, Peter Saddington, Clinical Supervisor at Relate Nottinghamshire said:

“Relate Nottinghamshire delighted that this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is on the theme of relationships. We all know from our day-to-day lives the impact that relationships can have on our mental health – both good and bad. And the evidence is there to back it up; people in troubled relationships are three times as likely to experience depression as those who aren’t.

“But the quality of our relationships isn’t just down to fate. There are practical things that we can do that make a difference to our relationships with friends, partners, family, colleagues or neighbours and in turn benefit our wellbeing. That’s why we’re encouraging people to make a relationship resolution today.”

Struggling to think of your relationship resolution? Here are a few suggestions:
Five relationship resolutions
• Start saying ‘hello’ to your neighbours and stopping for a chat. It’ll make you feel more a part of your community.
• Call your parents once a week to see how they’re doing rather than waiting for them to call you.
• Ban smart phones and laptops for at least one evening a week so you can spend quality time with your partner.
• Do something to surprise your partner every month. It can be anything from bringing them breakfast in bed to leaving them a romantic note or booking some cheap theatre tickets.
• Is there a colleague who you haven’t got to know yet? Make an effort to chat to them each day and make them feel welcome.
Read personal stories, learn about how investing in your relationships can support mental health and wellbeing and get support if your mental health, or someone else’s, is having an impact on your relationship: (live from 16th May).
Relate Nottinghamshire offers information, advice and counselling for all stages of your relationships. If there’s a relationship doubt or issue that’s niggling you, we’d also encourage you to come for counselling at the earliest possible stage to ensure you remain happy and healthy. Call us on 0115 9584278 or visit for more information.

How to support a bereaved child this Mother’s Day

How to support a bereaved child this Mother’s Day


Mother’s Day is traditionally a time for us to thank mums for all they have done for us, but what happens when they are no longer around?  It is estimated that almost 5 per cent or around 1 in 20 young people in the UK will have experienced the death of one or both of their parents by the age of 16.*

It is likely that children and young people experiencing bereavement will go through a range of emotions as they adjust to this enormous life change.  For children who have lost their mum, times such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Christmas can be particularly difficult but equally, it can help children through the grieving process if they can mark them in some way.


Relate Nottinghamshire has put together some advice for anyone who is caring for a child who has lost their mum.


Peter Saddington, counsellor at Relate Nottinghamshire said: “Mother’s Day is usually a time to celebrate but for others it can be a time which stirs up emotions of pain and loss.  For children who’ve lost their mum, it can be particularly hard when friends are spending special time with their mums and making them cards or gifts.

One tactic is to ignore the day but this is often not helpful as feelings become suppressed. Instead they may find it therapeutic to mark Mother’s Day by making a card with a personal note inside or by looking at photos together.  These actions may reassure them that although mum is no longer here, she will never be forgotten.”


How to support a bereaved child this Mother’s Day– Peter Saddington’s advice:

Let them know you are there for them:  Explain that you know this must be a difficult time for them, but that if they want to talk you are there for them whenever they feel ready. 


Suggest that they do something to mark it: Ask them if they would like to make a card for their mother and perhaps include a letter inside which can help them to express their feelings.


Look to siblings for support: Ask siblings to support one another and look out for one another during this time.  Perhaps they may want to do something together to remember their mum such as look through photos, make a memory box or light a candle.


Remember that people grieve at different stages: If the child doesn’t want to talk, make a card or mark the event in some way then understand this is normal and perhaps gently revisit it another time.


Remind their teacher:  Often schools will get children and young people to make cards or gifts for Mother’s Day. They are likely to be sensitive to the fact your child has experienced loss but it can’t help to remind them so they can factor this into their lesson planning. 


Don’t forget your own needs: It can be tempting to place all of the focus on the child who is grieving but if you were close to the person too – perhaps they were your spouse, partner or child- then make some time for yourself to reflect and get support if needed.  This will allow you to better support the child.


Consider counselling:  Bereavement counselling may be good in the earlier stages but later down the line if bereavement continues to affect behaviour or family relationships then the family counselling provided by organisations such as Relate may be helpful.


Relate Nottinghamshire offers information, advice and counselling for all stages of relationships, including helping families to build and maintain strong relationships. Visit  for more information, or call 0115 9584278.