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Don't Lose Hope charity has started work on new premises in Bourne with the aim of launching its counselling services next month

A well-being centre offering affordable mental health services could open in Bourne within a month.

Professional counsellors have been working behind the scenes for 18 months to bridge the gap in support for those suffering with mental health problems and their families.

Counsellor Nicola Brister came up with the idea after witnessing first-hand a lack of “joined up services” in the town through her work in local schools.

She has now secured a six-year lease on the former NatWest building in North Street and hopes the Don’t Lose Hope charity will be open for business by the end of March.

The premises for Don't Lose Hope in Bourne (7025539)
The premises for Don't Lose Hope in Bourne (7025539)

She said: “I feel there isn’t a joined up service. There’s no support for the parents of young people who have mental health issues and funding has been cut quite drastically.

“The criteria for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) are getting higher and higher. You really need to be in crisis to get that support.”

The initial aim of the project was to offer help for young people and their families, but services will now be available to everyone.

Nicola said: “Initially we wanted to have someone to support the parents but it has grown from there to now provide services for ages four to 104.”

People receiving some benefits such as free school meals, income support or jobseekers allowance will qualify for eight free sessions.

Prices for further sessions, or for those not receiving benefits, will vary depending on household income, but the aim is to keep them affordable so no one misses out on the help they need.

Nicola said: “We won’t ask for proof of income but hope that people will be honest as we will rely on those payments to allow us to provide a service for everyone.”

Seven qualified counsellors will work from the centre on weekdays, offering around 60 hours of therapy sessions.

A volunteer-run café will be open in the same premises for six days a week to boost income and provide a base for an informal listening service.

Outside organisations have also got on board to support the venture.

The Len Pick Trust has made a donation towards the renovations and Bourne United Charities has offered land at the Wellhead for outdoor activities like gardening and bushcraft.

NatWest is providing the premises rent-free for the first year, the Stamford branch of Homebase has provided materials and Tradeframe in Peterborough is helping out with the windows.

Nicola said: "I've got a list of 50 volunteers who want to help out when we open. The response has been quite overwhelming."

The team are still looking for new furniture and electrical appliances for the centre and are keen to hear from any businesses who can help with donations or funding.

Anyone who can help out with the project can email dontlosehopecounselling@hotmail.com or call 07823 887968.

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