Charity counselling young people marks 20 years of work

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A charity offering free counselling to young people is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Bedford Open Door, which helps youngsters aged 13 to 25 across the district, will welcome MP for North East Bedfordshire Alistair Burt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, to a celebration on Friday, November 20, from 4.30pm to 8pm at their base in Tavistock Street.

Mr Burt will be presenting prizes and certificates to the winners of a creative writing competition entitled An Open Door.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “The mental health of young people in the UK is rarely out of the news. Good mental health is essential to quality of life. Accessible services need to be available to help overcome problems and fulfil potential.”

The Children’s Society report, The Good Childhood 2015, concluded 10% of all children and young people in the UK suffer from low levels of well being and this is lower than in other countries. Young people they interviewed highlighted bullying and self image as major areas of concern. The young people coming to Bedford Open Door share these and many other concerns.

The spokeswoman added: “There is a nationwide increase in self harm amongst young people, which is reflected in our work. It is not surprising, as it is one of the strategies young people use to try and cope with the emotional pressures and conflicts they face. Young people are full of potential and we owe it to them to assist them to realise their aspirations.

“Despite local and national government cutbacks, Bedford Open Door has continued to provide a very necessary service for young people with the help of local and national funders. The service also contributes to the health of society as young people find their way through distress to become happier and better integrated members of their communities.”

Clients have commented on the impact counselling has made in their lives:

“Thank you for your support and help through a difficult time. I feel a lot more positive about the future.”

“I am just grateful that this service was available, as it has helped me get through a difficult time.”

“Bedford Open Door has been a superb support to my mental health and helped me maintain a good grounding on a weekly basis. I am very grateful for their help.”

“It has been a great experience, helped me to see things that were less visible before. Life changing. I should have done it sooner.”

“The counsellor made me feel welcome and comfortable enough to talk openly. I don’t think I would have got through the past few months without the help of Bedford Open Door.”

“It has really helped me develop a new look on life.”