Counselling service facing closure as cash runs out

The St Augustine's Centre in North Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The St Augustine's Centre in North Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A West Norfolk counselling service that has helped support people for 19 years is facing closure at the end of the month.

Mr Bees counselling service, which is held at the St Augustine's Centre, North Lynn, will not be able to continue after June 30 unless it receives vital funds of £120,000 to keep it running for the next three years.

And King's Lynn south councillor, Alexandra Kemp has met with Norfolk County Council officials calling for the service to be saved.

Miss Kemp explained: 'The point about this service is that is extremely responsive with a swift turnaround of 2-3 weeks from first referral to first appointment. I understand you can wait for 6-18 months for an appointment for other local counselling services.

'Intervening early can prevent much more costly help later on in the NHS. It is extremely good value for money with a manager and network of volunteer counsellors and runs on a shoestring.'

You may also want to watch:

She added: 'Mental health services in west Norfolk have been historically underfunded. We need to save this now.'

Mr Bees also provides two child care nurseries but director Marion Mayhew has stressed that they will not be affected.

Most Read

She said: 'We have always been self-funded, but we now have additional costs as we are required to deliver high quality child care and any spare money we have goes into that. We have to pay more for higher qualified staff to be able to produce this so our costs have gone up.'

But Mrs Mayhew said that she is 'devastated' about not being able to offer the counselling service that she and her late husband Steve founded back in 1995.

Back then, Mr and Mrs Mayhew, both relationship counsellors, realised that Lynn was in desperate need of a service that supports families so set so they set up Mr Bees.

Over the years they have counselled 1,600 people and see around 24 clients per week.

Since the news that the service is looking very likely to close, she has received 15 letters of support from doctors.

Mrs Mayhew said: 'Over the last week I have had two letters from distressed people who need help and I can't - it makes me feel terrible.

'People need the service, they have no where else to go to in the area. I am also very concerned for the children of those parents who need that help.'

Mrs Mayhew said that she is hoping that there is a chance that a clinical commissioning group (CCG) could help.

Dr Sue Crossman, Chief Officer of West Norfolk CCG said: 'This service has never been funded by West Norfolk CCG as it was supported by Mr Bees having initially been set up through a charitable grant.

We have only recently been made aware of the situation regarding its possible closure.

'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.'

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, Norfolk County Council has pledged officers will investigate if there are any gaps in counselling services and if there are any identified, the council would take it up with the clinical commissioning groups.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter