A “VITAL” counselling service for women in York is appealing for help after losing its funding as a result of NHS changes.

York Women’s Counselling Service 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 rent and other bills.

Its 12 trained counsellors all volunteer their time for free, last year running 758 counselling sessions, with many women being referred by GPs.

But the service has recently learned that funding from NHS North Yorkshire and York has been withdrawn due to the Government’s overhaul of the NHS, which means responsibility for budgets is being passed from primary care trusts to GPs.

Counsellor Karen Rymer said: “We find ourselves in a very difficult position. We offer women a vital, valuable and much-appreciated service – all of the counsellors offer their time free of charge – but we are in desperate need of donations, grants and further funding.

“People have said the service is a lifeline for them and said they have got their life back.

“We know we offer a good service and know it’s a valuable lifeline. Goodness knows what would happen to people without it.

“Everyone here is very committed to the organisation – some of the members are doing car boots sales, we are doing our best to raise money. We all want it to continue.”

She said the counselling service, which has been running for ten years, is so important in York because GP waiting lists for counselling sessions are currently months and even years long. Paid-for counselling sessions cost up to £50 a session.

As well as writing to GPs surgeries, seeking donations and advice about grants, the service is also welcoming more women for counselling.

To make inquiries about counselling or to offer advice or donations to help with funding, phone the centre on 01904 652706.