Shore Road Perth PH2 8BD –  Tel: 01738 449102  –


STRATEGIC PLAN 2020 – 2023 



1          Introduction

2          Background – what we do

3          Our Mission and Values

4          Our operating environment

5          Practitioner Achievements and Performance

6          Financial Achievements and Performance

7          Strategic aims 2020 – 2023

8          Conclusion



Following a special meeting of the Board held on 9 November 2019 to engage in a SWOT analysis of Harbour’s activity and performance and to discuss future strategy, it was agreed that a strategic plan should be developed and set out for a suitable planning period.

2          BACKGROUND – WHAT WE DO           

The Harbour Counselling Service started in June 2005 as a project of Gateway Community Church. The name ‘Harbour’ was chosen to indicate a place of rest and being able to recharge. The Harbour became a charity and company limited by guarantee in November 2008. This was to respond to the anticipated growth in the number of clients and to provide a vehicle to enhance the professionalism and independence of the service.

In October 2011 Harbour left shared premises and moved to our current premises in Shore Road and became an independent organisation.

Our service is currently delivered by volunteer counsellors and administrative staff with the exception of the Practice Manager who works part-time. Our continued survival depends on the generosity of individuals, grant awarding bodies, donations, and fundraising. This enables us to uphold our commitment to offer free confidential counselling, at the point of delivery, to those in need within our community.

3          OUR MISSION AND VALUES           

Our Mission

            To provide the community in Perth and the surrounding area with a free at the point of delivery, professional and confidential counselling service. This service is open to all who find themselves in need of emotional support.

Our Values

  • We are proud of our Christian heritage and identity and believe that the essence of this value is shared by those of other faiths and none
  • We strive to be always caring and compassionate, connecting and empathising with people
  • We seek to listen in order to build understanding
  • We hope through supportive relationships to bring about positive change

4          OUR OPERATING ENVIRONMENT           

Economic, societal and political uncertainties continue to impact on the lives of ordinary people as we enter a new decade. Consequently, the demand for             counselling therapies has increased in recent years.

The charity’s objectives are the advancement of health within the Perth and surrounding community by the promotion of wellbeing and good mental health.   

Poverty, stress, physical and emotional abuse, and trauma are known social risk factors that lead to poor mental health, itself a significant contributor to social exclusion and disadvantage. Without sufficient support to address some of the underlying factors, those most at risk of social exclusion through poor mental health may be ill-equipped to improve their situation. Harbour’s counselling service seeks to tackle underlying causes of social disadvantage at individual and household levels within the community of Perth and the surrounding area. Our core service approach is to provide one-to-one counselling to address issues of addiction, loss, relationships, abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, spiritual issues and sexual matters.

Our service is open to those from all backgrounds, with just under half from the lowest rankings of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. The majority of clients are self-referred which includes those following advice from GPs, health visitors, churches, and social workers. We normally receive around 240 referrals per year.

Approximately 75% of our clients are aged 18-49 and 35% are non-working, with many off work due to their mental health issues.

While the majority of our clients are seen individually we do have a growing number of couples working with our specially trained counsellors. By fostering meaningful counsellor/client relationships we can clarify issues, explore options, develop strategies and increase self-awareness that help people towards constructive change and growth. Moreover in addressing the underlying issues clients face, Harbour contributes to tackling wider societal issues such as social exclusion and disadvantage.

Without the services provided by Harbour Counselling our clients would be required to access private and paid counselling, or rely solely on NHS-provided support. Many of the issues clients present are exacerbated by extended periods without help and we therefore provide essential additional capacity beyond NHS availability. Our service is free at point-of-use, ensuring those who are unable to pay for counselling services are provided a means of bettering their situation and life opportunities.

Harbour is open to all models of counselling and enables counsellors and student counsellors to practice according to their individual model, eg person centered, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural therapy, pluralistic.

When requested by clients to provide Christian counselling we do so. Upon specific request prayer partner volunteers will pray for the well being of such clients seeking spiritual care.

Our counsellors, administrative staff and trustees are highly committed individuals with a high intrinsic motivation. Without their help the charity would not survive.

The only remuneration is to our part-time Practice Manager, who being a qualified counsellor also offers counselling to clients. Our Practice Manager gives clinical leadership and manages the counselling and administrative staff but in so doing is greatly overstretched.

We are committed to the training of students who, when they join us for placement, are typically well advanced in the theory side of their courses. Student counsellors are selected from universities and academic institutions in Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow and benefit from our professional mentoring and supervision.

Our Board of Directors is responsible for the strategic direction of the charity. The directors bring valuable experience from a variety of settings and willingly strive to ensure that Harbour is the best it can be.


Our Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 October 2018 among other things included the following statements:

“Mental health has increasingly become a topic in the news. It is an issue integrated into TV plots and highlighted through social media. These, along with other factors, have generated more self-referrals to counselling services. Those with more complex needs who are referred to the NHS for mental health support are met with long waiting lists or limited support and often come to counselling services before or after to bridge the gap.”

“Demand on Harbour Counselling Service continues to increase with 243 individuals (including 15 couples) approaching our service this year. This represents an increase of 10%. Most new referrals are coming via our website which is maintained and updated regularly. We are in no doubt about the need for our service and we continue to respond creatively and compassionately in line with our core values and ethos.”

“By committing to run a programme called ‘Managing Stress and Anxiety’, planned to begin early in 2019, we are realising a long-held aim to offer group work to our clients. We hope to attract funding this year so that the work can be sustained if outcomes are good when reviewed.”

“During 2017/2018 we took the decision to offer our clients ten sessions (plus extension if clinically appropriate) rather than twenty sessions as a measure to shorten wait times. These measures have enabled us to meet client need and cope with increased demand.”

“We make use of CORE statistics – ‘Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation’. These are gathered through forms used at the assessment and final appointments. Through these, and the evaluation form completed at the end of therapy, it is clear that most of our clients show improvement, benefit from counselling and value what we do and how we do it.”

“…We will soon be working at capacity ……… where we are offering around fifty hours of counselling per week supported by a team of six qualified counsellors (including the Manager) and nine students on placement.”

“…Harbour continues to be a valued source for placement by the counselling student community and a reputable, tried and tested organization for qualified counsellors…. It is a place where professional, ethical practice is modelled and developed within the community of therapists and where counsellors are nurtured and given opportunities to grow.”

            “We have taken opportunities to network and give presentations to a number of organisations during the year. This raises our profile and is potentially a source of future funding or volunteer support for our ongoing work. Contact with the Rotary Club of Perth this year generated funding for four counsellors to undertake training in couples counselling. Through our diverse current team and networks built up over time we continue to broaden our contacts with faith communities, professionals and other bodies.”


For the financial year ended 31 October 2018, there was a surplus of £12,728 (2017: £1,008) on unrestricted funds and a surplus of £2,400 (2017: (£6,820)) on restricted funds.

“There was a reassuring substantial upturn in income compared with 2016-17. This was largely due to continued and sustained effort to secure funding despite a disappointing previous year. It also provided a welcome buffer against annual fluctuations in income from award-giving trusts. Fundraising decreased (£1,407) compared with 2016-17 (£1,715).”

Harbour’s operational needs have been met over the years largely by the generosity of a small number of grant providers, by donations and our own fundraising. In   broad terms in 2017-2018 grants, donations and fundraising accounted for 56%, 39% and 5% respectively of our sources of income. In the same period we kept our      expenditure in line with the year previous.

7          STRATEGIC AIMS 2020 – 2023

            To achieve our mission and values over the next planning period Harbour intends to  address a number of strategic objectives –

            YEAR 1

  • Expand and develop our core service in order to make a greater impact within and for our community.


                        By introducing an additional session per week, thus adding nine client hours.           

  • Establish better balance, efficiency and continuity to the leadership and administration of Harbour and reduce the burden placed on our Practice Manager.


                        By increasing the working hours of our Practice Manager to 17 hour per week [implemented December 2019] and employing additional part time                                     administrative support to the service.

  • Continue to offer a ‘group work’ programme that was successfully piloted some months ago. We envisage two such programmes every eighteen months resulting in a positive impact on wait times.


                        By pursuing specific funding for this activity and investigate the paying of  specific sessional fees and off-site delivery.           

  • Take initial steps to investigate the possibility of collaboration with local churches in order to offer counselling to their ‘community’.


                        By having preliminary discussions with churches to assess their needs and establish if collaboration would be feasible and mutually beneficial.

  • Interrogate and develop our database in order to assist our funding applications both present and future and generally help our management of the service.


                        By allocating dedicated time to assess and analyse the database.

  • Seek to ensure that our grant funding applications continue to deliver satisfactory funding and we aim to increase the percentage of our funding derived from Harbour 100 and other donations.


                        By supporting our volunteer funding co-ordinator and devising a plan of action to increase our income via Harbour 100 and donations.


            YEAR 2

  • Introduce a ‘priority risk’ programme for appropriately acute clients.


                        By pursuing specific funding for this new initiative and investigate the paying of specific sessional fees.

  • Establish role definitions for Board members in order to improve clarity of purpose and bring about optimum effectiveness.


                        By assessing our needs and allocating appropriate responsibilities.


            YEAR 3

  • Review the specification of our current professional counsellor role. Investigate whether there is scope to broaden professional input.


                        Practice Manager/Counsellors to consider together.

  • Review the concept of ‘a wellbeing hub’ subject to premises suitability.


                        Board workgroup to consider.

  • Review Harbour’s website, use of social media and PR profile.


                        Board workgroup to consider.

8         CONCLUSION

The Board’s prime motivation in bringing forward its strategic plan for 2020 – 2023 is to offer counselling care to more people at a time when it seems to be more          demand. A key part of this strategy is to add specific innovative services to our core   service delivery. The existing Harbour team works well together with a strong sense  of purpose and adding a paid part-time administrator role is designed to enhance our capabilities further.

The intention of the Board is to remain highly vigilant of our financial position in order to maximise our opportunities and minimise risks.