Info for Professionals
Compass is a Counselling Project for Croydon Refugees, Asylum
Seekers and Forced Migrants aged 11 - 19.
The Compass project was established in 2008 in response to
the high level of unmet mental health needs and complex emotional
difficulties experienced by young refugees and asylum
seekers. They are highly vulnerable to depression, Post
Traumatic Stress, complex grief, suicide and self-harm. We
know young refugees and asylum seekers often fail to get the help
and support they need due to a lack of knowledge or understanding
about support available. We have identified significant
difficulties in accessing services, including practical, cultural
and linguistic barriers. Providing a service within a
familiar setting greatly reduces these barriers and increases
opportunities to signpost our clients to other services and
In the past year we have worked with 500 young people from 34
countries. 137 have received individual counselling and 363
participated in group work.
Our Counselling Service
Compass provides short-term individual counselling, usually
between 6-12 sessions. We are able to offer longer term
support to clients in crisis or prolonged difficulties.
Counselling can be offered through interpreters if
We prioritise services for new arrivals, age disputed young people
and refused or destitute asylum seekers. Approximately 65% of
our clients are unaccompanied minors.
An important aspect of our work has been
the development of a culturally sensitive counselling service
specifically addressing the needs of our clients. We provide
an opportunity to explore past or present issues confidentially, to
identify needs and how these may be met, and to help our clients
feel heard and accepted. For many of our clients this is
their first experience of counselling and we do not pressure them
to talk about anything they don't want to. We work with a
wide range of mental health issues, including post traumatic
stress, torture, complex loss, anxiety, self harm, depression,
sleep issues, anger and suicide.
Counselling can be helpful for young people who have witnessed
traumatic events, conflict or violence before or during their
journey to the UK.
Interpreters can be provided if requested by the client.
This can be organised at any stage of the counselling
process. Clients are given the opportunity to change their
interpreter if they wish.
We believe that our clients have the right to talk
confidentially about the issues that affect them. We do not
usually share information about the content of counselling
sessions. Counsellors working within schools or colleges may
inform the staff about attendance and missed sessions. They
can also indicate the level of need/ difficulty assessed at the
beginning and end of counselling. Again, they do not usually
discuss the content of sessions.
Exceptions to this are:
• If the young person asks us to share concerns or
information with another professional
• If the counsellor feels the young person is at risk or
indicates risk to another person
• If the counsellor is required by a court to disclose
Making a Referral
If you feel someone would benefit from counselling, please talk
directly to them first to see if they are interested. Give
them our Counselling
Leaflet and discuss it with them.
These leaflets for young people can also be emailed or
delivered on request.
If the young person would like counselling, either contact
Compass directly or email a completed referral form
If you are referring to a school or college service, the Referral
Form can be given directly to the counsellor delivering the
service. If the young person is aged 14 or over they must consent
to counselling by signing a referral form. If under 14 then the
school or social worker will need to obtain parental / carer
consent and indicate this on the referral form before counselling
Schools and colleges must be willing to identify a confidential
space where counselling can take place.
We also offer a variety of group work options. We offer
individual sessions to introduce the concept of counselling and the
services that Compass and Off the Record provide. We also
have a six week programme exploring ways to understand and manage
difficult feelings, discussing issues relating to loss and
transition and sharing current difficulties. This group can
be adapted to young people's needs.
We run a weekly support group for refugee and asylum seeking
boys which focuses on wellbeing through activities, developing peer
support and accessing wider services. This has provided more
flexible support, reduced isolation and addressed wider wellbeing
issues. 72 young people have accessed this group in the past
We have two Year 6 support options for primary schools:
- A mentoring scheme that encourages the development of self
confidence, problem solving skills and empathy
- Transition workshops to support the needs of Year 6 asylum
seekers, refugees and new migrants moving to secondary school
There is a charge for our primary school services.
Professional training is available to any organisation working
closely with our client group. Training covers the issues
facing young Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Forced Migrants both in
and out of school, the impact of loss and trauma and how these
might present as mental health difficulties. We provide
information about potential shared experiences within this group
and how the asylum process impacts on young people. Specific
training is available to explore specific issues such as self harm,
depression or post traumatic stress.
Click here to download our Information for
For more information or to arrange a meeting please contact