Health chiefs hold talks over future of King’s Lynn counselling service

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A North Lynn counselling service will close at the end of the month unless new funding can be found.

Health service chiefs have held talks over the service which is currently operated by the Mr Bees’ family centre, though no decision has yet been taken about whether they will step in.

Around £120,000 is needed to keep the service, which is being operated from the St Augustine’s Centre in Columbia Way, open for the next three years.

And Norfolk County Councillor Alexandra Kemp yesterday called for the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WNCCG) or mental health trust managers to fund the programme.

She said: “Mental health services in the west have been historically underfunded. We need to save this now.”

Unless a new backer steps in, the counselling service, which is estimated to have helped more than 1,500 people since it opened in 1995, will end on June 30.

Marion Mayhew, a director of Mr Bee’s, said the service had previously been subsidised by other areas of the organisation.

But she added: “With the increasing cost of running childcare services and maintaining buildings it has become impossible to continue that subsidy, and we have been unable to obtain sufficient funding elsewhere.

“This leaves us with no alternative other than to very regretfully make the decision to close the service.”

However, she stressed that there was no threat to any other services that the group provides.

Dr Sue Crossman, the WNCCG’s chief officer, said the group had only recently been made aware of the threat to the service.

But she added: “Since then, we have met twice with representatives and are currently investigating what the service offers patients and how it fits within the range of other counselling services available in West Norfolk.

“We will then consider whether or not we are able to provide some financial support.”