Please note update - April 2021

As First Steps is a time-limited project, our funding is coming to an end. The project now has limited capacity to accept new client referrals.  

Any new referrals will now be placed on a waiting list. If a counselling slot becomes available, the client who has been on the waiting list longest will be contacted. They’ll be offered a maximum of six telephone or online counselling sessions.  

Due to demand for this service, we've proactively submitted a request to extend this service for a further three years. We had hoped to provide an update on this in March/April 2021. We have recently been updated that a final outcome now won’t be available until June as to whether this has been successful. If we are unsuccessful with our funding request, any clients on the waiting list and their respective referrers will be contacted.

About this service

First Steps is a stroke-specific, emotional support, counselling service for stroke survivors and carers who live in Northern Ireland.  The service provides free, professional, one to one counselling by telephone or on-line.
Six months funding has been provided, with thanks to National Lottery players, for this much-needed service which is in direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This service offers:

  • Free, one-to-one counselling (online or by telephone) to stroke survivors and carers throughout Northern Ireland.
  • Up to six counselling sessions, each lasting 50 minutes, and usually taking place weekly.
  • Professional support from qualified counsellors who are trained in recognising, understanding and working with the emotional effects of stroke.
  • An opportunity to talk about what’s affecting you, such as anxiety, fears, worries, grief, relationships, or thoughts and behaviours you want to change.

Who is this service for?

If you live in Northern Ireland and you have had a stroke, (including TIA/mini-stroke) or care for someone who has, First Steps provides a safe, confidential place for you to talk to an experienced professional about your feelings and concerns. It can help you to develop emotional resilience, readjust to life after stroke and prepare to reintegrate into the community.

Third-party referrals from statutory or third sector organisations are especially welcome for this service. For more information please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

How can I access the First Steps service?

You can access the service for yourself by clicking the 'Sign up now' button below:

Sign up now

Third-party referrals from statutory or third sector organisations are especially welcome for this service. If you know someone else who might benefit from the First Steps service please click on the ‘Sign up someone else’ button below:

Sign up someone else

I highly recommend counselling through the emotional support service and feel its benefit, even a few years post-stroke, cannot be underestimated”.
Denise Watson, stroke survivor.