David and Cindy’s Big Aberdeen Story

“I can say that I am glad we had the opportunity to come to The Spark and speak openly and frankly about issues we may not necessarily have raised with each other before.  I think it gave us both a way to be able to communicate effectively using some of the tips such as the right time to speak about something, making time for just the two of us with no distractions and it’s something we put into practice now.

It’s certainly something I would recommend to other couples preparing for marriage or indeed a major life change”.

David and Cindy (not their real names) both in their 30’s from Mannofield, found out about The Spark through their church.  They were getting married and they realised the importance of this commitment and the need to support their relationship.  Working with one of The Spark’s relationship facilitators gave Cindy and David the confidence to open up about their relationship, recognise the importance of good communication and making time for this, as well as supporting all the positives within their relationship they already share as a couple.  Communicating our differences and problem solving these together are skills that we can learn.  We know that Cindy and David now recognise this and will work on them together to strengthen their relationship.


This beautiful painting by Stephanie Vandem from her Family Album collection www.stephanievandem.com shows a couple lying together. Art allows each of us to take something from the image. What we see will be influenced from our own frame of reference, ‘what is going on for us’. Do we see a happy couple lying together without the need to touch or a couple struggling with their differences and unable to communicate?

Aberdeen Issues from this story

  1. How can we teach our children the communication skills they need to form healthy relationships?
  2. Are we able to recognise when our own relationships are struggling and do we know where to get help?
  3. Do our employers understand the impact of relationship stress on their workforce and how they could offer support?

The Spark are David and Cindy’s STORYTELLER.

Cindy and David were supported by The Spark

The Spark celebrates its 50 year anniversary this month and as a charitable organisation it has seen many cultural changes to relationships during that time. The services they offer reflect the needs of our communities and provides them in a variety of ways within Aberdeen. Whether you are on your own, in a couple, family, with or without children, a professional or frontline worker their services are for you.

  • The Relationship Helpline is a free telephone and webchat service for 16+ and is free from mobiles and landlines on 0808 802 2088 or online at www.thespark.org.uk. They also offer online and telephone counselling through these services.
  • For face to face counselling for individuals or couples contact the appointments line on 0845 271 2711 or www.thespark.org.uk/couples-individuals/
  • For Professionals they offer a range of training which can be tailored to meet specific needs. View at www.thespark.org.uk/professionals/

The Spark has been successfully partnering with Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Grampian NHS to deliver training to Aberdeen University, teaching students on mental health and wellbeing with particular focus on feelings and emotions, resilience and coping strategies for children. The Spark will also be working with Aberdeen City’s Education and Children Services later in the year.

This month The Spark has an article in TREND Magazine to promote 50 years as an established charity and to continue to raise awareness of its services in more areas of our diverse city


The Spark recognises how unhealthy relationships can have a long term impact on our health and wellbeing.  Through working with other organisations, raising awareness of this we are championing the positive act of seeking support to improve our relationships.  We have been working with:-

  • Stephanie Vandem, www.stephanievandem.com  ‘Artist Stephanie Vandem is collecting personal narratives for her next art project. She’s interested in personal stories which illustrate moments of loneliness within close relationships – be it with a partner, a sibling, a close friend, a parent… Something that has happened to you at any age or you have observed happening to others. All stories will be treated with upmost respect and confidentiality. Get in touch if you have a story you’d like to share.
  • Home-start is a family charity helping parents to build better lives for their children.  If you would like to volunteer or make a referral follow the link to www.home-start.org.uk/
  • Befriend a Child is an independent, Aberdeen-based charity – and Scotland’s oldest befriending service for disadvantaged and vulnerable children – focused on providing support to young people across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. www.befriendachild.org.uk/
  • EMPHIRE HR – offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness, Empire is an independent Human Resources, Health & Safety and Employment Law support businesses in Scotland. www.empirehr.com/
  • CLAN – recognises the enormous impact a diagnosis has on relationships and offers support for this.  www.clanhouse.org/
  • TREND Magazine – Supporting local charities and businesses across Aberdeen. www.trendmagazine.co.uk
  • Grampian Housing Association – Recognises the importance of training their employees to have a better understanding of how the challenges their tenants face impact upon their relationships.  They aim to work in partnership with other agencies to provide and manage quality accommodation for people in housing need while actively promoting community regeneration and related environmental improvements. www.grampianhousing.co.uk/
  • MHA (Mental Health Aberdeen) – providing counselling services within Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for 12+. www.mha.uk.net
  • Choose Life – If your life has been affected by suicide or you are worried about someone or have suicidal thoughts please contact Breathing Space free on 0800 83 85 8.  Neil Murray is Aberdeen’s Choose Life Coordinator .  www.chooselife.net
  • NHS Healthy Working Lives – Helping employers create a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce. Working with all kinds of businesses, completely free of charge, offering practical information and advice to help improve health and safety and the wellbeing of everyone at work. www.healthyworkinglives.com/
  • Aberdeen City Education & Children Services – Working with teachers to provide an environment for learning supporting our relationships and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Scottish Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) –
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – Recognising the impact of relationship stress on employees and employers. www.cipd.co.uk/
  • Aberdeen Multi-cultural Centre – supporting our diverse city. www.abmc.org.uk/index.php
  • Cash in Your Pocket Partnership (CIYPP) – The Team co-ordinate an online directory of services that can help with specific needs. This easy to access tool, provides a real-time guide to available services and can be used by anyone looking for, or providing support, to others seeking help, or advice. www.ciyp.co.uk/
  • City Wardens –  Reassuring members of the public that our city is a safe and secure place to be. The Spark has worked with the wardens supporting their training in understanding the impact of relationship breakdown and mental illness. www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/citywardens/
  • SACRO – Providing conflict resolution that prevents disputes from escalating to supporting prisoners on release, we’ll work with you to repair harm and reduce conflict and reoffending. www.sacro.org.uk/

What Happened Next

What will happen after David and Cindy’s Story?