Funding cuts have forced the closure of BWC’s counselling service for women with histories of abuse, poverty, and addiction.
Counselling has been a core part of the services BWC offer. Poor mental health is often bound up in the disadvantages women face and including counselling as part of our services is essential to support the women and families, we support to lead healthy and meaningful lives.
BWC are proud to offer holistic women-centred services. Women are not labels. depressed, offender, homeless they are individuals and BWC treat them as just that by offering support for a full range of complicated and overlapping issues such as violence and abuse, poverty, addiction, mental health, and homelessness. This approach works, and we have helped thousands of women over four decades.
But now this vital service is gone.
Funding stopped in March when the sub-contract from the local mental health and wellbeing service, which gets its funding from Brighton and Hove clinical commissioning group, was terminated. BWC are still trying to find the underlying cause of why this has happened. The sudden termination of funding has meant BWC have not had time to find money from alternative sources to continue the service. As a result, BWC have also lost the skills and expertise of a team of specialist staff who understood what these women face daily and how it affects their mental health.
The counselling offered by BWC was effective and inexpensive, so with the renewed focus on mental health among the public and politicians, losing funding does not make sense.
Closing a vital women-only counselling service in the city is short sighted and to the detriment of thousands of women and children in the area. Those in power, locally and nationally, need to recognise the financial and social value of support tailored to women’s needs: for them, their families and society. For many of the women referred to the BWC counselling service, symptoms of anxiety and depression are the tip of the iceberg. There are often more traumatic and enduring life experiences at the root of it.
BWC have been advised that women will be able to access support through a general, mixed-sex service. But these often do not work for women. There is evidence that a women-only space makes women feel safer and more able to openly discuss the issues affecting them.
Director of BWC Lisa Dando has said “I lead a team of staff and volunteers who work with some of society’s most disadvantaged women. These women have been turned away from other services because their needs are seen as too complex, they have fallen through the gaps in the system, or they distrust other services. Closing a vital women-only counselling service in the city is short sighted and to the detriment of many thousands of women and children in the area. Mental health services are about saving lives, not money. Those in power, locally and nationally, need to recognise the financial and social value of support tailored to women’s needs: for them, their families and society as a whole.”
Any changes to services offered will be announced in due course.