A VITAL counselling service for women which was threatened with closure after losing NHS funding has been given a £10,000 lottery boost.

York Women's Counselling in Priory Street works with women coping with a variety of issues - including domestic violence, depression and rape - asking them for a small donation to help cover their rent and other bills.

Its trained counsellors all volunteer their time for free, last year running hundreds of counselling sessions, with many women being referred by GPs.

It had feared it would have to close after funding from NHS North Yorkshire and York was withdrawn due to the Government's overhaul of the NHS but the charity will be able to remain open for another year after being awarded £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

Barbara Webb, chair of trustees, said: “This has been a life-saver for the charity and gives us another 12 months to pull out all the stops to put longer term funding in place.

“It’s been a terrific morale booster to have Lottery support for our service. However, we have to keep our fundraising efforts going in order to secure our future.”

York Women’s Counselling has been given the one-off grant to fund its one year ‘supported counselling project’ to offer counselling and other resources such as workshops on confidence building.

The charity was set up 12 years ago and offers counselling by donation to women on low incomes who cannot afford to pay for private therapy. The organisation - which has 16 volunteers - said it costs it £30 to see one client for one hour.

More women are now coming to the service on the suggestion of their GPs - 55 per cent compared to 45 per cent a year ago - which the charity thinks could be because of changes to the access to “talking therapies” in the NHS.

Anyone who would like to donate to the charity can do so by contacting them directly, or via their website at www.yorkwomenscounsellingservice.org.uk