Norwich counselling centre celebrates 40th anniversary

The 40th anniversary celebrations of the St Barnabas Counselling Centre in Norwich. Caty Austin, cen

The 40th anniversary celebrations of the St Barnabas Counselling Centre in Norwich. Caty Austin, centre, with William Armstrong and Norman Lamb. Photo: Kelvin Alford. - Credit: Archant

A charity, which has helped hundreds of people to overcome mental health problems, celebrated a landmark anniversary at the weekend.

William Armstrong speaks at the 40th anniversary event for St Barnabas Counselling Centre. Photo: Ke

William Armstrong speaks at the 40th anniversary event for St Barnabas Counselling Centre. Photo: Kelvin Alford. - Credit: Archant

The St Barnabas Counselling Centre was set up in Norwich in 1974 to provide free one-to-one support to local residents who could not afford counselling.

Trustees from the charity said they had seen a 'huge' increase in demand in recent years from people seeking help to tackle their demons.

Supporters and local residents gathered at the centre in Derby Street on Saturday to celebrate its 40th anniversary, which was attended by care minister Norman Lamb and the Sheriff of Norwich, William Armstrong.

The building, which is one of Norfolk's largest independent counselling centres, has 26 trained counsellors who give up their time for free to provide counselling to people who wish to refer themselves for help.


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Cathy Austin, director of counselling at the centre, said the warm and comforting ethos had not changed over the last 40 years. However, the centre has evolved in other ways such as becoming accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

She said the St Barnabas Centre provided in excess of 3,000 counselling sessions a year and demand had gone up in recent years with more GPs referring patients to the service because of the strain being placed on community mental health services.

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'It is a privilege to work here. We are increasingly getting more and more people and I am really pleased we are seeing more young men. I would like there to be more cooperation and collaboration between us and the NHS,' she said.

Former coroner, William Armstrong, who is the Sheriff of Norwich, said he wished less medication and more counselling was prescribed to people with mental health difficulties.

'The 40th anniversary of St Barnabas is very good and something we should be celebrating and something we should be grateful for. People are treated with respect and they are treated as individuals,' he said.

Norman Lamb also praised the centre by saying it was of 'vital' importance to local people.

For more information, visit www.stbcc.org.uk

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