Decision made over future of under-threat Off The Record centres

The future of Off The Record's counselling centres for young people is looking more secure
The future of Off The Record's counselling centres for young people is looking more secure
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THE future of two counselling centres for young people is looking more secure.

For the past year, Off The Record (OTR) has been teetering on the brink after its funding was cut by Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council.

The charity has offices in Fratton Road, Fratton and Purbrook Way, Leigh Park, and back in March the leaders of OTR feared a decision would have to be made to close one of the centres to save cash.

However, at this month’s annual general meeting, it was decided to keep both centres open as the financial situation has improved.

The charity, which offers free counselling to young people aged between 11 and 25 across the Portsmouth area, has received a £5,000 grant from Portsmouth City Council and £5,000 from Hampshire Constabulary.

There have also been dozens of smaller donations from businesses and individuals, as well as a £5,000 donation from a local business.

Peter Mills, chairman of Off The Record, said: ‘Our financial position has improved somewhat and it’s partly due to the publicity we got from The News.

‘As a result we did not have to take any serious decisions at our annual general meeting.

‘Mostly people said “just keep it going” which is what we are doing.’

He said the grants from the authorities came as a surprise.

‘We had argued for it but without any great expectation of success, but we got it,’ said Mr Mills.

‘While it’s not enough to get us through the year, it’s a big help. We have sufficient funding to be able to keep both centres working.’

But the charity is not out of the woods yet and the pressure continues to get financially buoyant again.

Mr Mills added: ‘We have got a small team of bid writers.

‘They are making applications to trust funds. We have sufficient funding to go into autumn and we are hoping some of the bids will be positive, but we can’t be 

‘It’s not an ideal situation but it’s considerably better than where we were a year ago.

‘We want to keep our volunteers on board. We continue to see large numbers of young people.’

The charity was founded 35 years ago and counsels around 2,000 young people each year.

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