This statement is to officially inform everyone that The What? Centre will have to suspend its waiting list from this Friday, 1st October 2021 due to unprecedented levels of referrals into the organisation.  We currently have 539 children and young people on the waiting list, in addition to those already in counselling.  Our current contract with the CCG is £145,000 per annum but if the rate of referrals continues as they have been over the last 18-months it would mean that £500,000 would be needed to meet the need over the full financial year.   

This decision to suspend referrals has not been taken lightly as we have worked tirelessly during Covid-19 to not only bring in extra funding through charitable trusts to the tune of £116,000 but also to ensure that we have been able to provide online counselling very quickly together with face-to-face when that was possible.  External funding for Covid-19 ended at the end of last financial year.  We have already completed over £100,000 worth of CCG funded counselling this financial year and the funding only comes in from the CCG on a quarterly basis so we are already over £30,000 overspent on the project to date, which will only increase as the months progress unless we take action.  We do not have the reserves to fund this and also feel that it would be unfair on young people to think that they can access the counselling they need when we know that it could be twelve-eighteen months before we can see them. 

We have been in discussions with both the CCG and Dudley Council about the fact that the numbers were increasing drastically before the end of last financial year, and both are looking at other funding, but we were led to believe that the CCG funding would be ongoing and now we have been told that any extra funding will be for this year only.  The delay in news about the funding has led our Board to make the decision that we need to suspend our waiting list from 1st October and refer any new referrals back to the GP’s and CAMHS.   We hope that this will only be temporary but we feel that we should not promise counselling for young people new to our list because it will take time to find external funding.  Most charitable trusts will not fund what they feel should be statutory funded work, indeed the opposite - they like to pilot work which will eventually be funded by statutory services.    

As you may be aware, The What? Centre has other projects, such as Fusion for BAME clients and LGBTQ+ clients and their families, BeeHIVe which is a HIV project, and Together which is a families’ project (very small) for families who are not receiving statutory provisions around mental health and well-being.   We will also continue to take referrals for these groups but they are already well subscribed. 

We do sincerely apologise that we will not be able to take any referrals from GP’s, social workers, CAMHS or self-referrals unless they are for the above-mentioned specialist groups.  We will see all clients currently on the waiting list and will review the situation regularly.  We will post an announcement on our website at when we are able to take new referrals, which may be some months hence. 

Please feel free to contact Julie Duffy our CEO to discuss the matter by emailing her at [email protected] because we know that this will mean a huge gap in provision but please rest assured that we are doing all we can do from our end. 


The Board of Trustees 

The What? Centre Limited