The Sanctuary, Tara

‘A place of hope, support and healing. The Sanctuary Counselling Centre provides care and support for individuals and their families experiencing life-challenging illness or bereavement.’ We hear from Tara McKinty. ‘The people we meet are already coping with enough challenge so we want to make our service as accessible as possible. Many people are touched to find this service is a gift from our wonderful community.

‘Our underlying philosophy is that although we cannot always choose the challenges we may face we can, with positive help, choose the way we respond.”

The Sanctuary

‘My training is in social work and counselling. I’d worked in many settings before I felt ready to establish an independent service that reflected my deepest values, availability of informed compassionate care for all at the times when we are challenged the most. It was when I moved from the UK to the Yarra Valley that I met Scott, now my husband, and Lou Vickers-Willis who asked us to come to Geelong and set up The Sanctuary.

‘The Sanctuary has now been running for over 22 years. I laugh to think we were talking about conscious living /dying and practising mindfulness and meditation all those years ago. At the time, it made some people think of us as hippies, whereas now, thankfully, its value is recognised widely.  It is good to think that we helped to pioneer that good psychological and social care needs to run alongside physical care when people are facing the impact of life-challenging illness or bereavement.

‘Everyone responds differently to the impact of illness or loss.  Our job is to help people find the very best way that helps them to feel that they can cope and live the best way possible for them.

‘Scott and I provide counselling and John, a music therapist, has joined the team, 2 days a week. This is a huge benefit because words are sometimes hard to find in these situations. Our newest initiative is a choir for people living with illness or loss.

‘We help over 300 families a year. We provide the first two counselling sessions free of charge then there is a co-payment if people can afford it. There are so many people who contribute in different ways to make our service possible.  Geelong is really strong in its giving nature. We rely on fundraising, donations, corporate sponsorship and grants. Give Where You Live, The Geelong Community Foundation and the Gwyneth Raymond Trust have been key partners for several years. Our Committee is made up of highly skilled people who have personal affinity with our purpose.

‘Every day we see ordinary people manage extraordinary challenges and we all feel privileged to think that our help has been a part of helping them.

‘We have our two major fundraising events coming up, a Race Day Marquee at the Geelong Cup on Wed. 25th October and our Gala Dinner on November 18th. All are welcome to come along and contribute to this invaluable community service.’

Written by Jacqui Bennett Photo: Phil Hines Photography

One of over 40 exhibitors in the #humansingeelongexpo for full program.