Cedar House is a registered charity, which has been providing counselling to the people of the Preston area since 1998. It opened in a small way with a special focus on pregnancy-related crises, but has grown over the years to offer counselling on a wide range of issues to men and women alike. Full details can be found on the Cedar House website HERE.
Hazel Sewell, one of the founders and moving spirits of Cedar House, writes about their ministry of binding up the broken hearted and of God's faithfulness in providing the resources they need.
Poverty isn't only about money. In our demanding, stressful and often disjointed 21st Century society, many suffer emotionally and psychologically as well as physically. Here at Cedar House we work with people who lack peace of mind, self-worth and hope, leading to depression, post traumatic symptoms, isolation, fear, haunting memories, anger, guilt and a whole lot more.
And it's not surprising that many of these also lack the finance or the influence to get the help they need. Getting effective counselling help in situations like these is a bit of a lottery. Private counselling, at perhaps £40 per hour is out of reach of most people, while NHS provision can be of insufficient duration and often means a long wait.
God called Cedar House into being in 1997, when a small group of Christians got together to embark on a journey which led to the opening of a centre in the middle of Preston in 1998. We were guided and sustained by prayer and felt God's leading through some special passages of the Bible. Such as:"
At first we majored on help for women and girls with crisis pregnancy but over the years have developed and grown into a well-respected counselling centre dealing with a full range of issues and at present staffed by 70+ volunteers and staff. Last year we worked with over 300 clients and offered 4,000+ appointments. While we encourage those who can to make a donation towards costs, we will never turn anyone away from our homely if slightly shabby little house on Mount St.
From the start we have been quietly but unashamedly Christian in ethos and practice, which engendered a bit of suspicion in the early days. But we seem to have got over that now as agencies around the city have grown to know us and trust us. Sticking to professional ethics means that we don't speak about faith issues unless invited to by our clients and never use the situation to push our views. But the love of Jesus is on offer at Cedar House and there is no doubt that it is felt and appreciated, if not always understood.
Over the years we have built up plenty of good relationships. A number of local Churches support us and our team is drawn from folk from all denominations or none. We offer placement experience to students from a number of local Universities and Colleges, helping to train the counsellors of the future. And many local GPs, Health Centres and Hospitals refer clients to us.
We have now come under the umbrella of Methodist Action NW, which has provided us with help in the areas where we were getting out of our depth – finance, employment and the like. Like many really valuable community initiatives, there have been some serious funding challenges and without help from MANW we would probably have gone bust by now!
And the future is by no means secure financially. But we have a God who is faithful and has always provided just what we have needed at the right time and our faith in him has been strengthened as we have seen him at work, helping us to 'bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free'.