Women's therapy service is cut

Women who have been abused or suffered difficult childhoods are to lose out on free therapy helping them to come to terms with their pasts. For five years Waveney Women's Mental Health has been running individual and group therapy for women who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse and trauma.

Women who have been abused or suffered difficult childhoods are to lose out on free therapy helping them to come to terms with their pasts.

For five years Waveney Women's Mental Health has been running individual and group therapy for women who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse and trauma. But at the end of this month the Lowestoft-based service, run by Sue Parker, will end as the contract is coming to an end and will not be renewed.

One beneficiary of the service, a mother from south Norfolk who has suffered from mental health problems and does not want to be named, said: 'She is a listening ear to so many women and she has helped children too. It is not just about the women, it is the next generation that follow them.'

It is part of a whole raft of changes to mental health services in Suffolk from April 1. Day services, advocacy, community support and employment services will all change to provide 'a more consistent and fairer spread of spread of services'.

The changes are being made through Suffolk's �4.1m Mental Health Pooled Fund, which is funded by Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk and NHS Yarmouth and Waveney. Some areas are losing out as there will be a reduction in the drop-in services available.

Julie Bateman, head of service development, said the Waveney women's mental health service had evolved since the contract was last agreed in 2001, and was doing something which had not initially been envisaged. She said women with such needs would be more appropriately treated in the NHS and could seek help via their GPs.

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She said that more generally the changes were 'moving on from models of community care from the 60s and 70s.'

Mental health day services, which have been focused around a drop-in day centre with a range of services and activities, will now be led by East Suffolk Mind and will be more focused on 'community participation', including drop-in sessions, group support, and short educational and therapy programmes.

Mental health information and advice services, which were only available in West Suffolk, will no longer be provided. Instead people are expected to get information from libraries.

Employment services, including traditional workshops helping people to learn skills, will be changed to more modern kinds of work preparation as well as support to help people keep their jobs. Access to employment service will be widened. Meridian East, which provides employment services in Lowestoft and Ipswich, will lose its funding. A partnership of the Shaw Trust, Streetforge Workshop, Family Action and Workwise will provide the service across the county.

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