Counselling service cuts could prove shortsighted

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What a difference a day makes.

In Monday’s paper we reported how Portsmouth-based charity Off The Record looked like it was going to be thrown a lifeline by the city council.

The counselling service for young people needed an extra £10,000 to ensure it could keep going for the coming year.

However, at yesterday’s meeting of the full council, a motion asking for more cash for the cause was voted down.

And as a result the vice-chairwoman of the charity has announced it is highly likely they will have to wind up the service if they can’t get the funding.

In our previous story, council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson talked of the need for Off the Record to improve its track record of getting grants.

And it’s an important point, but rather a moot one, if they do not get that chance.

Off The Record has been helping young people in Portsmouth and Havant for three-and-a-half decades. During that time it has helped thousands turn around their lives.

Who is going to provide that service if it folds?

The £10,000 is a drop in the ocean compared to the money that has been spent keeping The Pyramids Centre open.

Obviously the two serve very different functions for the community.

But the money for Off the Record would have a huge impact comparatively.

Those who are helped by counselling often need less support from other parts of the system. As a result, saving money here could ultimately cost the council more elsewhere.

The motion for the extra cash was put forward by Conservative councillors.

But when it came to the vote, the majority Lib Dem group voted against it – even though Cllr Vernon-Jackson had previously spoken positively about the motion.

We really hope the vote was not motivated by party politics as this service is too important to fall victim to political squabbling.