Having worked as a counsellor for many years at Off the Record, I was saddened and shocked to hear that significant funding had been withdrawn, thus putting the future and viability of providing the service in jeopardy.
Thousands of young people have benefited from the service during its 35 years.
Hundreds of volunteers have supported this provision with unpaid counselling, support and information, having themselves held fundraising events to boost income when funds were low.
To be professional and effective, the service also needs salaried staff, premises to work from and ongoing training.
This, of course, needs money.
Off the Record is unique.
It is a place of safety where they can come in confidence and speak of some of the difficulties and traumas they are dealing with.
They are then given every support and guidance, direction to enable them to effect change and coping strategies.
Surely history has shown the need for somewhere like this service?
Many instances of physical, emotional or sexual abuse do not reach the headlines – but nevertheless occur.
Depression, panic attacks, bullying, family break-ups are just some of the other problems that young people can find too difficult to cope with on their own.
A high percentage of our referrals come from GPs who would appear to value the service we provide.
Off the Record is not a luxury in my opinion – but a necessity – for our society and Portsmouth, in particular.