Suffolk counselling service forced cuts

A COUNSELLING service for people with mental health problems is to be cut back due to lack of funding, it was revealed today.

By SARAH GILLETT, health reporter,

sarah.gillett@eveningstar.co.uk>

A COUNSELLING service for people with mental health problems is to be cut back due to lack of funding, it was revealed today.

East Suffolk Mind, which offers counselling to people through GP surgeries, has been hit by a reduction in the funding it receives from health trusts and social services.

The bad news means the charity will have to reduce the number of its sessions by around 25 per cent.

Ian Hartley, chief executive, said: “We have had a reduction in funding this financial year so we have had to look at ways we can save money without making too much of an impact on services.

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“We are obviously disappointed that we will have to reduce the amount of counselling as this will increase waiting times for this highly-valued service.

“On the other hand, I think people are relieved that we have not had to make too many changes.”

Other measures the charity is having to take include not giving staff a cost-of-living increase this year and making three people redundant.

The news comes the day after Tony Blair announced that the NHS has reached “crunch-point” and insisted that improvements are being made despite more than 7,000 job cuts being announced in recent weeks.

The charity currently has some money in reserve which has enabled it to minimise the number of changes it will have to make, but Mr Hartley said it could be a very different situation next year.

He said: “We will not have any money left in reserve this time next year which means we have got to raise an awful lot of money this year if we are not going to cut services.

“We are pursuing all possibilities for finding alternative sources of income. Several bids to grant making bodies have been submitted and we will continue to organise fundraising events.

“We are hoping to get as much support as we can from people in order to continue the services that people have had in the past.”

East Suffolk Mind is one of a number of charities in the area that has had its funding reduced this year as health trusts and the county's social services department battle to balance their books.

Donations and offers of support can be sent to East Suffolk Mind, 32 Foundation Street, Ipswich, IP4 1BN.

Has your charity been affected by a reduced grant from health trusts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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