+ Can I apply for the programme before I am 18 years old?
If you are under 18 years old and need support, our Support Services team will work with you to establish a local support network within your church and other local services. Our hope is that perhaps due to this extended time of coordinated support, you may find no need to come to the residential programme, or if you do, you will be well prepared and have a well-developed support network already set up for when you are within the age criteria to enter the home. Because applicants must be 18 years old to enter the home, realistically you may begin applying when you are 17 years old and due to turn 18 years old in the coming months of your application.
+ If I am over 30 years old does that mean I am no longer eligible to enter the home?
The residential programme is specifically designed to benefit adult women aged 18 to around 30 years old. Applicants who are in their early 30’s may still be eligible to enter the home but this will be on a case by case basis and we recommend that you speak directly with a member of our Intake team.
+ Does Mercy UK offer detox facilities?
No, we don’t. The reason for this is that we are not a medical facility and we don’t have medically trained staff on site. We can however, offer you referral information for detox programmes.
+ Is there a minimum or maximum BMI for entering the Mercy UK Programme?
Yes, there is. We have a minimum BMI requirement of 17 and a maximum BMI of 42 for entry to the residential programme. This is because at either below or above this BMI range, there is an increased risk to physical health and the likelihood of being able to engage fully in all aspects of the programme is greatly reduced. If your BMI is outside of this range at the time of application, we are happy to work in partnership with you, your local healthcare provider and your local church to support you in safely moving towards a healthier BMI before being considered for the programme. Should your BMI fall outside of this range whilst in the home, you would no longer be eligible to access the residential support due to medical suitability and a referral to medical or an eating-disorder service will be made to ensure your wellbeing.
+ Is the programme suitable for me if I am pregnant?
Yes- we are able to consider applications up to the end of your first trimester of pregnancy (12 weeks) but not after that stage. This is because the programme is designed to be delivered over 6 months and as we do not have facilities for mothers and babies, you would need sufficient time to complete the programme prior to baby’s arrival.
+ Is the programme suitable for me if I am married or in a relationship?
Yes, we have had quite a number of married residents successfully complete the programme. You just need to remember that the programme is a 6-month commitment, though we will help to facilitate regular communication between you and your partner during this time. Contact can be made regularly via Skype, as well as regular post, emails, phone-calls and visits home throughout the 6-month period.
+ Does Mercy UK practice Reparative (also known as Conversion) therapy?
Mercy UK believe that all young women, regardless of their sexual orientation, can experience love and acceptance, and we empower residents within their own relationship with God to make their own decisions relating to their sexual orientation. Mercy UK does not practise or condone Reparative (or Conversion) Therapy.
+ Is the programme suitable for mothers with children?
Sadly we are unable to offer facilities on site for mothers and their children, so we would work together with you during your application process to ensure that suitable arrangements were made for the care of your child/children throughout the duration of the programme. We will help to facilitate regular communication between you and your child/children during your time on the programme with daily contact via Skype, as well as regular post, phone-calls and visits home throughout the 6-month period.
+ Do I need to be a Christian to apply to the programme?
No, it’s not essential to have a Christian faith to apply for our residential programme- we welcome applications from young women struggling with life controlling issues regardless of their personal faith or religious background. However, we are transparent about the fact that we offer a Christ-centred, bible-based discipleship curriculum and aspects of the programme include bible study, worship, Christian teachings, prayer and regular church attendance. You’d have to be willing to join in on all aspects of the programme but we will talk you through what those are before you come.
+ Do I need to be attending a church to apply to the programme?
Whilst we don’t require that you are attending a church in order to apply to the programme, we know that your long-term success and aftercare really does depend on having a solid support network in place within a local church setting. We exist both to demonstrate God’s unconditional, love, forgiveness and life transforming power to young women as well as equipping the local church through partnership with them. If you are not already attending a local church when you apply, we would discuss this with you during your application process and aim to connect you with a local church, setting up ongoing pastoral support through the nomination of an accountability partner to come alongside you in your journey.
+ Are there any medical / mental health conditions that would be considered unsuitable for this programme?
We consider each application on an individual basis and throughout the application process we would gather information from both the young woman herself, any medical professionals involved in her care and any existing support networks. Gathering this information will allow us to build a complete picture and make an informed decision as to whether the environment we offer here at Mercy UK would be suitable for the individual applying.
+ Can I maintain a vegetarian diet whilst in the home?
Unfortunately not. Mercy UK cannot cater for dietary preferences. The meals provided by Mercy UK are of a high standard, nutritionally balanced and our fresh food has been locally sourced. Where residents have a medically diagnosed food allergy or intolerance, alternatives will be offered.
+ Can I smoke whilst a resident on the Mercy UK Programme?
Mercy UK has a no-smoking policy which includes the use of e-cigarettes. This means that residents are not permitted to smoke or vape whilst on the programme. Support can be offered in partnership with NHS services, for applicants who wish to reduce or stop smoking.
+ Will I be able to use my phone/ internet whilst in the programme and am I able to make contact with family and friends?
One of the strengths of this programme is the ability for you to find a space that is free from the distractions, interruptions and demands of every day life and have the tranquillity available that is needed to deal with some of the root causes of the life controlling issues you are struggling with. It’s for this reason that your mobile phone will only be available to you on special request and during your visits home.
We encourage residents to maintain regular communication with family, friends and their local church throughout their stay in the programme through other means. Residents are able to receive and send post on a daily basis, have email access mid-week as well as phone-calls to their Accountability Partners, and every weekend you’ll be able to receive and make telephone calls to friends and family. Visits home are also encouraged or alternatively if your family or friends would like to visit, that is also possible.
+ Is there an option to do the programme part time or come for less than 6 months?
Unfortunately not - the programme that we offer is a full-time residential programme, the effectiveness of which is maximised over the 6-month period.
+ After I apply, how long will it be until my application is reviewed?
It’s difficult to put a timeframe on how long it takes to complete the application process as it varies a lot from person to person. We aim for the application process to be complete within 90 days, assuming the applicant is timely with the aspects that depend on her. The steps of the application process are explained at the front of the application and our recommendations for speeding this process up would be to stay in regular contact with our Intake Department, returning forms and feedback as quickly as possible.
+ If I’m accepted onto the programme how long will it be until my entry date?
That’s a difficult one to answer as it depends entirely on how many other applicants are waiting for a bed, how many beds we have available and various other factors including how many residents we currently have with similar issues. On the whole, we like to aim to get applicants into the home within 90 days of their application being completed.
+ What happens after I have been accepted onto the programme?
Following acceptance onto the programme applicants go onto what we call our completed applications (CA) list. From that point on, you’ll begin the programme, even though you are not yet physically in the home yet. This is a time of preparation so that you can enter the programme from a place of strength and readiness. At this point we will explain the expectations of our partnership with you and the boundaries for your time in the programme. We will also encourage you to work with your accountability partner in your local church to set goals and begin taking steps forwards. We will have regular telephone contact with you and we’ll also post you books and audio teachings to read/ listen to and give your personal feedback. At this stage, we would also generally invite you to come for a home visit with your accountability partner and/or family/ friends.
+ What happens if my application is declined?
The good news is that the residential programme is not the only service that we offer. Whilst we try very hard not to decline anyone’s application, sometimes it becomes clear through the application process that this environment is not best suited to your needs. If this is the case, we would clearly explain the reasons for the application being declined and would look at how Support Services can signpost you and your Accountability Partner to alternative organisations that may be able to offer more appropriate support.
+ Are there mental-health professionals or counsellors on site?
As a Christian discipleship programme each of our staff have qualifications and experience relevant to their position. Our facilitators are qualified in counselling or a related field such as social work, psychology or pastoral care, but we do not follow a counselling model, nor do we provide ‘counselling’ as such. The curriculum that we deliver is based on the same principles as our ‘Keys to Freedom’ material and this is delivered by a 1:1 facilitator who works closely with you throughout your 6-month stay in the programme. Whilst our staff are not medically-trained or mental-health professionals, they do receive training in mental-health first aid.
+ Am I able to take medication whilst in the programme?
Yes, you can. In the first week of your stay, you’ll get to meet with the local GP and will be able to work in partnership with him/her regarding any medical needs you may have. If you would like to reduce or change your medication while in the programme, we ask that this is always done with the professional medical guidance of the GP. There are a small number of controlled substances that we are unable to store on site, however this would be addressed on an individual basis. All medication is self-administered under staff supervision, and medications are stored securely. Whilst our programme staff will have received basic first aid training, they are not medically trained and therefore you would need to request an appointment with our local GP should you have any medical queries or needs.
+ What aftercare support is provided?
Even during the application process we begin to think about setting you up for life long success. We will ask your local church to nominate someone as an Accountability Partner for you. This person will be in contact with you on a regular basis and offer support and encouragement throughout your application, your time in the programme and then also in the transition back into daily life after your completion of the programme. Our Transitional Care Coordinators will begin to meet with you from your 90-day point in the programme, and will speak with you about your hopes and desires for the future. Upon your exit from the programme and for up to 12-months after, our Transitional Care department will continue to be available to you to offer remote support and to equip and guide your Accountability Partner as they support you.
+ What happens if I change my mind and don’t want to stay?
Your stay at Mercy UK is completely voluntary and should you express a desire to leave, we aim for the exit process to be completed within 24 hours.
There are many different reasons why someone may choose to leave the programme and we will always respect this decision. We also understand that at times, the unsteady feelings that come with addressing root issues from the past and that these can cause us to make impulsive decisions. Because we always aim to empower each young woman in her ability and right to choose, we will offer each individual appropriate support in helping her make an informed decision regarding her stay and to also ensure that sufficient plans are in place for her transition home.