‘Life or death’ counselling service in Bucks is cut

Melanie Williams, Chris Cartwright, Ceri Phillips and Lin Short
Melanie Williams, Chris Cartwright, Ceri Phillips and Lin Short
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A youth counselling service which provides a ‘life or death’ support system for vulnerable young people is due to have its funding cut.

Time to Talk Bucks, which encompasses Connexions in Aylesbury, will be forced to close when the shock cut to funding comes into play from September, if budget proposals go ahead as expected.

Service chiefs say that Bucks County Council did not give them enough time to find an alternative source of the £270,000 needed to run the service.

Manager Melanie 
Williams, who co-ordinates a team of 100 volunteer counsellors and seven members of staff said: “This is absolutely devastating, we are shocked and appalled.

“We often find that sometimes a client will disclose something several weeks 
into their sessions, we would then make a referral to another agency. But we then stay with that client while they are on the waiting list for the other service.

“Sometimes clients have nowhere else to go, it’s a life and death scenario.

“This is not a ‘nice to have service’ it is an essential life support service and saves young people’s lives.”

She added: “There is a high risk of increased suicides of young people in Buckinghamshire as a result of this.”

The service sees 2,000 young people every year.

These young people are dealing with the effects for self-harm, anger, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, domestic violence and rape.

And councillor Phil Gomm also spoke out this week, saying that services like Time To Talk are essential, and help to prevent bigger problems in the future.

Mr Gomm, who sits on the council’s children’s services select committee, said: “This is the worst case scenario.

“I already think that social services get involved a bit too early, but these types of cut make it worse.

Council ‘talking shops’ like the Local Area Forums, which cost £1.3million a year,should be scrapped instead, he said.

“Why not use that money to make a real difference within the communities, and help save children’s lives in the process.”

Cabinet Member for 
education and skills, Zahir Mohammed said, “All I can say is, as cabinet member, I will be looking at 
all possible options for the service going forward.”