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Youngsters desperate for help from Stourbridge advice centre
9:44am Tuesday 24th September 2013 in News
AN ADVICE centre which offers counselling for troubled youngsters has seen a surge in demand for its service - with 80 people desperate for help on its waiting list.
Stourbridge’s What? Centre holds 70 counselling sessions a week for 13 to 25-year-olds struggling with issues including abuse, self harm, depression and low self esteem.
Around sixty five per cent of the youngsters are referred from GPs, with others coming from Russells Hall Hospital, parents, schools and directly themselves asking for help.
The centre, which has 17 workers made up of six staff as well as volunteers, at its base in Coventry Street, was weeks away from shutting its doors for good in 2011 after Dudley Council cancelled contracts worth £47k per year.
But it has survived thanks to a three-year £300k Lottery funding lifeline, which runs out next August.
Staff are this week putting together a bid for the next round of funding.
Chief officer Julie Duffy said: “It’s very hard to get Lottery funding - it’s a six month application process.
“We are starting now to work on our future bid - and debating whether to go for three or five years’ funding. It’s absolutely crucial we get it.
“The demand for counselling far outstrips the amount of sessions we are able to run. We have 80 people on a waiting list and are getting around five new referrals every day.
“Every young person admitted to Russells Hall Hospital for self harm costs £1,800 - if we can prevent that it’s a big saving for the borough.”
The registered charity is also trying to raise revenue by running a social enterprise arm which is allowed to be profit making and offers counselling services to schools and businesses.
Vital cash also comes from fundraisers including a recent golf day at Little Lakes Golf Club in Bewdley, which has pulled in more than £900.
It was organised by What? counsellor and keen golfer Steve Woodall and saw forty golfers from as far away as London compete for the trophy, which was won by Carl Cashmore.
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