Portsmouth has lost its only free youth drop-in counselling service.
Last year, the Conservative-led City Council ensured the closure of ‘Off The Record'. This open access service was contacted by over 3,300 young people in the 8 months before it was forced to close. Of these, 866 were direct referrals from a GP.
The council had the opportunity to support Off The Record using a fund specifically identified for helping charities and other local organisations to help people in Portsmouth but chose not to. Instead, they have replaced it with an appointment-only service in Cosham, making it much harder for many young people to access. In fact, only 270 appointments were made in that last year.
This means the council forced the only free drop-in youth counselling service to close down at a time when self-harming rates amongst Portsmouth’s young people are 50% higher than the national average and the waiting time for NHS support is at 16 weeks.
We, the undersigned, petition Portsmouth City Council to reinstate a free drop-in mental health service for young people in the city.