08:04AM, Thursday 26 April 2012
A counselling service described as Maidenhead's 'hidden gem' is appealing for businesses to help it stay open.
Number 22 was started in 1976 and offers free counselling to young people and adults.
It was originally based in 22 Cookham Road, but kept the much-loved name when it moved to Four Marlow Road Community Centre.
The centre has about 50 professional counsellors who give their time for free to help the thousands of referrals which come from GPs, schools, social services and other statutory organisations, as well as self-referrals.
Coordinator Shula Tajima said people come for counselling for a variety of reasons, from sexual and domestic abuse victims, to feeling suicidal.
"We change lives for the better," she said. "The majority of people come because of a relationship breakdown, with themselves or people around them."
Shula, who started as a volunteer with the charity in 1993, said Number 22 helps prevent people getting to crisis point. "We provide that support for people who've not got to that point yet and we aim to prevent people from getting to that point."
Over the last few years the charity, which costs about £38,000 a year to run, has seen a 65 per cent increase in referrals from GPs alone. It gets support from the Royal Borough as well as generous donations from the Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust.
"Without them we wouldn't be open today but to meet the growing need we need more donations," said volunteer assistant Alex Walker.
Number 22 is appealing for support from local businesses who want to put something back into the community.
"This is Maidenhead's hidden gem, it's invaluable," added Alex. "We have a really positive impact on the people that come here and the impact on families really benefits the community.
"Counselling can support the community and so the community has a chance to support us back."
Call 01628 636661 for details or visit www.number22counselling.org to donate.
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