The city’s the only free generic counselling service for children and young people has been forced to turn youngsters away due to lack of funds.
The YiS Youth Counselling Service faced such a “uncertain funding future” that it had to close its waiting lists at a time demand was soaring.
But this week the charity received a welcome boost - thanks to a local dentist and the London Marathon.
Rachel Langridge from Newport Pagnell’s Wilson House dental practice completed the marathon in four hours and 56 minutes and raised an impressive £2,500 through Virgin Money Giving.
The cash has “never been more needed”, said YiS CEO Gareth Eglinton-Pacitti this week.
“We have recently been faced with the hard decision of having to close our waiting list to new referrals, but any and all funding raised by our marathon runner Rachel will enable us to recruit more fantastic volunteer counsellors and to therefore see more young people around MK,” he said.
“We know from the feedback we get from people we’ve seen that our service makes a real difference to the lives of local young people.”.
Demand for YiS counselling has increased considerably over the past few years and this has put added pressure on the charity’s dwindling resources, said Gareth.
YiS is the only local counselling service that supports young people from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, which prevents young people feeling ‘abandoned at 18’ by mental health services.
It is recognised that early intervention is vital in preventing low to moderate mental health issues escalating into more serious, and costly, conditions. Some 97% of clients said YiS helped improve their mental health and wellbeing by providing a safe space to discuss and work through their issues with a professional counsellor.
Run by volunteers, YiS offers BACP-accredited counselling to young people aged 11-21 years who live, work or learn in Milton Keynes.
Its work is funded through MK Community Foundation, MK Council, MK Youth Cabinet, fundraising and public donations.
Counselling is delivered in informal community settings across MK which are both friendly and welcoming.
The sessions are offered between 4pm-7pm and take place in venues that young people may visit, such as schools or community centres.
For more information about YiS see https://www.mkyis.org.uk.
It also has its own local giving page on https://localgiving.org/charity/MKYIS