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Dunedin-based children’s mobile counselling service ChatBus is to close, it was announced this week.
In a media statement earlier this week, recently appointed ChatBus board chairwoman Jo Rowe said it was "with heavy hearts, and great sadness that the board of ChatBus children’s counselling services has decided to close the service".
Founded 14 years ago by counsellor and former kindergarten teacher Averil Pierce, the ChatBus charitable trust has provided a free mobile counselling service at selected schools, via its mobile buses and visiting counsellors.
Ms Rowe said the ChatBus trust board had recently conducted a thorough review of ChatBus’ financial situation, and its model of provision.
Unfortunately, the service faced significant and rising costs, and had not been able to secure sustainable funding or contractual funding arrangements, she said.
Although the Government had announced increases in funding for mental health services in recent times, this funding had not flowed through to front-line services in a way that would meet the need the service was seeing.
"This situation means that the service is now unable to meet its employment and contractual requirements," Ms Rowe said.
"As such, we regret that the ChatBus service will no longer be available from term 1 in 2022. Letters have been distributed to affected schools.
"We know that ChatBus has provided an important service to many children."
ChatBus counsellors who had been involved with each school could contact the school to discuss potential referrals to alternative services for children who it was believed would benefit from continued counselling input.
"We would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the ChatBus service since its inception in 2008."
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- Should you or your child need to talk to a counsellor, the following services are available: