Harrogate mental health charity closes current waiting list for children and young people's counselling

The executive director of Wellspring Therapy and Training, Emily Fullarton, at Wellspring House, the former St Andrew's vicarage on Starbeck High Street.
The executive director of Wellspring Therapy and Training, Emily Fullarton, at Wellspring House, the former St Andrew's vicarage on Starbeck High Street.

A Harrogate mental health charity has had to close its current waiting list for children and young people's counselling, due to growing demand for support.

The executive director of Wellspring Therapy and Training in Starbeck, Emily Fullarton, said the charity needs more funding to be able to secure counsellors to offer this service, and has identified a number of factors leading to rising demand for mental health provision in our town.

Emily said: "There is more awareness and less stigma when it comes to talking about mental health, but there is also a cut in services, so places like community centres and youth clubs where people previously made community and connections and got support, don't exist as much.

"The more instant culture we have now, where expectations on life are higher and more public with social media, is creating pressures, and also the academic pressures for young people are growing. I think the lack of community meeting points increases isolation and loneliness.

"Wellspring are happy to help, and we know our services make a difference, but we can only do our bit. We need support from the public as well as other statutory and third sector services, to do their bit and offer complementary services.

"I am worried that as the demand for support rises, the threshold for receiving support will rise from the NHS, who will not be able to meet the demand."

Wellspring is developing a raft of exciting new projects and services to secure its long-term future against a difficult climate - including introducing an associate counsellor scheme.

The charity's main activity is offering affordable counselling for those who are unable to afford private prices and access NHS support.

But last year, Wellspring was contacted by a number of people asking for help who could afford to pay private rates (£45 per session), so they decided to launch an associate counsellor scheme, where income is split with counsellors - creating paid work for counsellors through Wellspring's reputation, whilst also generating funds for the charity itself, to be ploughed back into their affordable counselling scheme.

Emily said: "It is extremely important for Wellspring to create sustainable income streams - the competition for national grant funds is increasing with cuts to commissioning and services, so we would like to have more diverse and sustainable strands of income to ensure that we survive the current climate and exist for our clients in years to come.

"The associate counsellor scheme is a great way of generating income and ensuring counsellors receive payment for their work."

Only last year, Wellspring moved into their new larger premises at the former St Andrew's Vicarage on Starbeck High Street - allowing the team to expand and grow their support.

Thanks to having more space at Wellspring House, the number of counselling sessions booked in for this year compared to 2018, shows a 34 per cent increase.

Emily said: "Our plans for the year are to increase our services. We would especially like to see our offer of counselling to children and young people grow, but we need more funding. We are also offering more training sessions with having our own training room, and are expanding the staff team to support the growth of services."