Charity partnership launches secure youth counselling in Weston

Weston mayor Mark Conniford helped launch the joint project on World Mental Health Day (Thursday)

Weston mayor Mark Conniford helped launch the joint project on World Mental Health Day (Thursday) Picture: Gareth Newnham - Credit: Gareth Newnham

A mental health charity has partnered with a housing association to provide one-to-one counselling sessions for young people in Weston.

Weston Foyer will be for the next five months home to counsellors from In Charley's Memory who will be on hand to provide sessions for 11-25 year olds.

The services are the first available in the town specifically for young people in three years.

Dawn Carey, In Charley's Memory's operations manager said: "We want to get to the young people before they get to crisis.

"There's no criteria for the services, if they just want support we are here for them."

The charity has counselling rooms in Highbridge, but has wanted to expand to Weston for a long time, although its ultimate aim is to have a space in every town in the country.

Dawn said: "If you are a young person living in Weston, then Highbridge is a long way to go if you don't drive."

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Gill Carpenter, from Sanctuary Supported Living said the partnership happened incredibly quickly, with the whole scheme coming together in a matter of weeks.

She said: "I was at the mayor's dinner and I met Dawn, and I thought she needs rooms and I need counsellors so it was the perfect match.

"Sanctuary Supported Living have been so supportive of this, they gave us £1,000 for five months and use of the rooms here."

The service was launched on World Mental Health Day, with a ceremony at the St Ives Road supported living centre, attended by Weston mayor Mark Canniford.

Cllr Canniford said: "When I became mayor I was encouraged by my daughter to focus on mental health in young people as its a much greater issue than most of us care to accept.

"I decided to make in Charley's Memory my only chosen charity.

"The decision seemed to resonate a lot of with people.

"It seems to me the need the need in our community for mental health services has become so great because it is something adults have ignored.

Dawn believes the project will make a massive difference in the years to come.

She added: "I have spoken to many people with problems in their 80s who have said if only they had got to me when I was 16."

"What is great about this project is we are all told to talk but who are they going to talk to?

"That's where we step in."