Horsham charity fights back against criticism

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A Horsham-based charity that offers relationship counselling has fought back after the price of its services was criticised by a customer.

Norman Gilham, 87, of Clark’s Green near Capel, branded services a ‘waste of time’ after claiming he paid £48 for an initial assessment that lasted for around 45 minutes.

Norman told the County Times: “It proved very negative.

“In all it was a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. I was hoping some positive suggestions would come out of it but there were none. I was charged £48 for it.”

Sue Quinn, manager of Relate North & South West Sussex, who has worked for the national charity for 30 years, said its work is ‘totally invaluable’ and charities cannot be expected to offer their services free-of-charge.

Sue said initial interviews cost Relate - which last year conducted 852 sessions of counselling for 209 cases in Horsham - £68 per hour and that sessions are offered at a subsidised rate of £25 for people in financially difficult circumstances.

She said: “I think the work we do is totally invaluable - families are the bedrock of society.

“People do have this vision that we are part of the health service but we are independent and people also have this vision that we are a charity so we must be free but sadly as a charity we still have to comply with the regulations and that costs money.

“The initial interview is an opportunity we offer for the client to discuss with the counsellor whether it would be beneficial for them to come back for ongoing counselling.”

The region’s Relate branches receive half of their funding from client payments, 36 per cent from fundraising and 11 per cent from local government grants.

She added: “There are so many good causes that something like us gets left behind. If we are standing on the street and say we are Relate they might shy away but we need as much support as we can get. We do try to make it affordable.”