Lifeline launch for counselling

PUBLISHED: 06:01 23 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:02 24 May 2010

A NEW counselling service has been launched in several Somerset villages to help cut waiting lists and avoid massive bills. Villagers in Congresbury, Yatton, Langford, Sandford, Wrington, Banwell, Churchill and Winscombe have joined together under the hea

A NEW counselling service has been launched in several Somerset villages to help cut waiting lists and avoid massive bills.Villagers in Congresbury, Yatton, Langford, Sandford, Wrington, Banwell, Churchill and Winscombe have joined together under the heading Vine Counselling Committee to provide the service.Users will only make donations for the service, but do not have to pay if they cannot afford to. Childcare will also be provided.Volunteers set up the charity to relieve some of the growing pressure on the National Health Service. They also hope to support people who need help but cannot afford private counselling.The service, which was launched at the beginning of March, is operating from the Refectory at St Andrew's Church in Congresbury. As it develops people will be able to visit clinics in other villages.Committee vice-chairman Reverend Matthew Thomson said: "Private counselling can cost up to £40 for a 50-minute session with a waiting list of three to four months, so people who need attention sometimes cannot receive it."Young mothers, who may be suffering from post-natal depression, fail to attend appointments because they cannot find childcare."People can access the Vine counselling provision based on need. Ability to pay shouldn't prevent people from using this service."Regularity in attendance is very important. A young mum going through post-natal issues could bring her child with her and know the child is being professionally cared for."The scheme, which has operated successfully in Nailsea, will use counsellors accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).Rev Thomson said: "It will be a provision to the highest standard. We're fortunate to have a number of BACP counsellors willing to offer their time to the service on a voluntary basis where they would normally be charging £40 per session."Having spoken to various counsellors it seems to be really needed within the community and it would dramatically shorten current waiting lists. Because the communities would be working together, users could visit another village to protect their privacy."The trust is appealing to parish councils to make grants to help pay for the scheme, which will cost £18,000 a year to run. The scheme is supported by the Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches in the villages.

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