'˜We need a miracle' pleads Portsmouth counselling service as funding dries up

CAMPAIGNERS are stepping up the pressure on community leaders to work a '˜miracle' and save a vital support network for the vulnerable in Portsmouth.

Tuesday, 15th November 2016, 6:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:00 pm

Close to 1,000 supporters have signed a petition urging Portsmouth City Council to give Portsmouth Counselling Service cash to keep going.

The hub has relied on grants from the Clinical Commissioning Group for two years after the council stopped its funding in 2015, but now no more money is available.

And now the service is turning back to the council for help.

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The authority took away its £33,150 contribution in its 2015/2016 budget, as it was anticipated the service would ‘be funded from another source in the future’.

‘The service currently accepts self-referrals and referrals from GPs, health and social care professionals,’ the council’s budget report added.

The authority says the move followed a review into the future of counselling services between 2011 and 2012.

But in a fresh plea for help, Portsmouth Counselling Service petitioner Katie Munro said: ‘The centre 
will close unless a miracle occurs.

‘Portsmouth Counselling Service needs a fraction of the £780,000 per day the government spends on anti-depressants.

‘In 2015, PCS provided 2,474 general counselling and assessment sessions.

‘The service is very cost effective. Counsellors are trained volunteers, who are qualified and largely accredited.

‘PCS ensures counselling is accessible and affordable to all irrespective of race, gender, social or financial circumstances, and for those that don’t fit the criteria for other services.

‘Individuals suffering social isolation, at risk of exclusion with marginalised lives are able to access counselling and make real changes to their quality of life, significantly reducing the impact on statutory services and the community.’

The CCG has said it ‘invests a very large amount of money into counselling services and will continue to do so’.