A counselling service that has helped hundreds of vulnerable residents is facing closure.
Maundy Relief, based in Abbey Street, Accrington has been providing counselling for the past 15 years and volunteers have said that due to a cut in NHS funding the future of the service is now in doubt.
The charity said that funding of about £40,000 has been withdrawn by East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning group (CCG), as health bosses look to reorganise services.
Lucy Hardwick, Maundy Relief manager, said: “This is devastating news for all who use the service and for those who give hours of their professional time free in order to help those in mental distress.
“At this time when mental health is being given a greater focus and more people are being encouraged to seek help to improve their mental wellbeing, it is a great sadness that such a wonderful and well run service for local people is not being supported by our NHS.
“We desperately want to continue the service but it seems very unjust that we now have to raise donations from our loyal supporters in the community to fund a service that is used by NHS GPs and other health professionals.”
She added: “We would like the CCG to rethink this decision.” The decision only affects the counselling service offered by the charity.
Ronnie Arkwright, 54, of Church, has been using the counselling service for the past four years and said it would be ‘devastating’ if it were to close.
Mr Arkwright said: “Maundy is a family for me. Sometimes I have been in tears and not had anywhere to turn, they just picked me up and helped. It would hurt me badly if this went.”
Janette Cunliffe, 50, of Richmond Avenue, has also used the service regularly and said it was ‘vital’ to many residents.
She said: “I used to come down every day, if I am feeling down or if I need a bit of food they are just there. I would hate to see it closing down. I think Maundy deserves more.”
Joy Arrandale, mental health commissioning manager at the CCG, said: “Maundy Relief were initially funded for one year to deliver a counselling service. As part of the CCG’s commitment to ensuring high quality psychological therapies, a programme of work has been developed to bring all our voluntary organisations together to deliver East Lancashire-wide counselling. I would like to stress that this in no way impacts on anyone who needs access to mental health counselling.”
Maundy Relief was founded in 1998 by Rev Len Singleton and Alan Freeman and Dorothy McGregor, who died in 2013.