In an interview, Katie Williams discusses how she first joined Ongo, her role as Ongo Talk’s Manager and the support that the programme has to offer
When did you first start working for Ongo?
I started as a volunteer counsellor on the Looking Up project in 2018 when I was studying for my degree in counselling and psychotherapy. I then became a part-time paid counsellor before successfully gaining full-time employment as the mental health specialist on the project. Then, in March 2021 I moved over to become the manager of the Ongo Talk programme.
What does your role involve?
I oversee Ongo Talk, working closely with my team to ensure the project runs smoothly and ensuring we are compliant with our funders. I also work with clients by completing counselling assessments or conducting counselling sessions myself when needed.
I have a fantastic team that is continually learning and developing. We have an apprentice who helps with administration, a wellbeing coach, a mental health employment support coach and two part-time counsellors. There’s also the 20 wonderful volunteer counsellors who offer their time across both Ongo Talk and the Looking Up project.
What different types of support are available through the programme?
The great thing about Ongo Talk is that we can tailor the support to the clients’ individual needs. We can offer one-to-one counselling, coaching and bespoke courses such as mindfulness, emotional wellbeing and awareness.
We can offer lots of other support too. This includes updating or creating a new CV, searching for jobs, training, upskilling and much more. The aim is to move clients forward in their lives, to encourage and support them to make positive choices and, if they have a set goal in mind, we like to help them achieve that.
What is your favourite part of the job?
It has and always will be the people. I get real satisfaction from working together to help achieve their goals and encouraging them to realise their full potential. It is such a rewarding job and I feel privileged to be able to work with the people that I have so far.
What is your message to any reader who would like some help and support?
You are not alone and we are here for you – please reach out to us and let us know what you are struggling with. We can have a chat about what support is needed and what you would like from the project.
Read more about Ongo:
- Ongo Talk helps local family transform their lives
- Ongo staff member recognised at Resolve’s ASB awards
- Active Humber award Ongo over £3,000 to get people moving
What is the main lesson that lockdown has taught you?
It’s made me so grateful for what I have as opposed to what I felt I needed to have in order to feel happy. We can create our own happiness – it doesn’t come from others. For example, the last year has allowed me to spend some real quality time with my children and my partner. We can often forget just how good what we already have is.
Where is the first place you’ll be visiting when restrictions are fully lifted?
I haven’t been able to see some of my family for over a year so the first place I will be visiting is my Mum’s. We have decided we are going to have a big barbecue so I can see all my sisters and my nieces and nephews – which there are plenty to see as I have five sisters! In 2020 we supported 147 people through Ongo Talk, 111 of which were after the first lockdown began.
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