We recently caught up with Ken Loftus from The Sunlight Centre, who kindly gave us an exclusive interview:
Tell me about The Sunlight Centre
The Sunlight Centre sees adults and under 18s that are in suicidal distress and/or going through self-harm behaviour. If a client can make it to us at Pickwick Street, Cannon Hill, we’ll see them! We use solution focused and evidence-based therapies to work with a client to get them through their dark, crisis time into a place of recovery.
The Sunlight Centre also hosts Healthy Mind workshops to help psycho-educate around helping our own mental health. These are sometimes held at the Southside Tea Room.
How do you accept new clients?
New clients can self-refer by calling 1300 259 724 and one of our therapists will call them back with appointment times. Health professionals can contact us via the same number with any questions about the centre and therapy.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about people who are thinking about suicide or self-harm?
That they are selfish people and are not thinking of others. With all of my first-hand experience working with clients that are thinking of ending their lives, they are sometimes thinking too much about others. Maladaptive thoughts, ways of thinking that don’t help us, can create thoughts such as “I am a burden to others, they would be better off without me.”
We also offer family support for people that are finding it difficult coping with their friends or loved ones thoughts.
How does the CarPort café environment help?
Bikash and his CarPort Café have given us a location that is central while being quiet enough to create a warm confidential setting. And as we are grassroots as it gets we have yet to receive any funding, so CarPorts support has helped us to already start seeing clients in distress. Plus, anyone waiting for their therapist can enjoy some tasty food and an excellent beverage.
Can you describe a typical day?
For me, a typical day is one that is atypical. I wear a couple of hats, so I work in two other different therapeutic positions between days where I see clients. I also work directly with our business director, Linda Smith on our fundraising and awareness events so that we can raise needed funds and let the community know we’re here.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Oh, that’s a difficult one! I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing people. Clients that give me their trust to help them through very personal and intimate times in their lives. I did work with one lady, who due to her past trauma, had not hugged anyone except her two sons, in several years. After a few months of therapy, she asked for a hug at the reception as she was leaving after one of our sessions, and reported the next week that she then was offering hugs to her brothers and close friends to their surprised delight.
What do you love most about what you do?
Seeing that first smile when people move from crisis to recovery. That moment they realize they’re not crazy, or they’re not ‘broken’ and that they can actually get through this dark moment of their life.
Who or what inspires you?
My clients. Past, present and future. I wouldn’t do this work if not for them. I have met some inspirational people in my life too that help drive me to keep pushing the Sunlight Centre to its full potential, one of the hardest workers being my wife who without, we would not have gotten this far.
Do you have any future plans for The Sunlight Centre?
We are in talks with some groups and hope that we can reach out to more rural Queensland areas, especially to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait island cultures and communities. After that, who knows, maybe Australia wide. But for now, one suburb at a time.
About The Sunlight Centre and CarPort Café
Coffee, meals and mental health advice are not your average café offerings, but the Carport Café and Brisbane charity The Sunlight Centre have come together to offer a space for
therapists to meet clients experiencing suicidal thoughts and self-harm distress. The Sunlight Centre is a registered charity that offers free face-to-face counseling to adults and teenagers who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and/or self-harm behaviour.
The Sunlight Centre will see anyone who needs help using solution-focused therapy and an assessment based and self-referral model. This means no mental health plan is required and clients can get the help they need – quickly. Each client will receive at least three months of free therapy with the same accredited therapist.
Ken Loftus, Clinical Director of the Sunlight Centre, has worked in the industry for more than 15 years specializing in crisis intervention (suicide and self-harm) helping both adolescents and adults. Ken said the idea to run the charity began when he noticed that there was a lack of free crisis therapy services in Brisbane that helped people directly that were suffering with suicidal ideation and self-harm.
The Centre offers one-on-one crisis counseling in a confidential and relaxed environment by experienced and accredited counselors. To help raise awareness of its services, The Sunlight Centre holds regular fundraising events, make sure you keep an eye out for what’s happening on the Sunlight Centre website or find them on Facebook.