A young woman with mental health needs has said she will feel “abandoned” when a free night-time support line is cut due to lack of funding.

Suffolk Night Owls, a free telephone, text, and email support service run by mental health charity Suffolk Mind, is no longer taking referrals after nine years of running.

The service itself is set to close from April 1, following a decision from Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Suffolk County Council.

The support line was funded through a contract that ends in March, and the funding is no longer available to continue the service.

Sarah Brown, who lives near Orford, said her daughter makes use of the helpline three or four times a week as she lives with complex mental health needs.

Ms Brown said: “We are so upset, angry, and frustrated at this being cut because that is all there is to support someone with emotional needs outside office hours.

“This will have a massive impact for her. It is like pulling the rug from her feet. It will leave her, and all the other service users, with nobody to turn to.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ms Brown says the cuts will leave her daughter with 'nobody to turn to'.Ms Brown says the cuts will leave her daughter with 'nobody to turn to'. (Image: Contributed)

“My daughter can seek help from Samaritans but the unique thing about Night Owls is that they have notes about you, so they know her difficulties and what she struggles with.

“You have somebody who has a back story about who you are when you contact them, and, although not a crisis service, can recognise when an issue needs escalating.”

She added that it is a vital service for people struggling in rural areas: “One of the suggestions was STEAM cafes, but we live in the middle of nowhere. We are not driving at 10pm at night into Ipswich to talk to someone in a café, and that is if she can leave the house, which my daughter cannot.

“Even if you live in the middle of Ipswich, if you have a mental health condition you may not be able to leave the house.

“When you cut services from people who are incredibly vulnerable, you can do it on the quiet. The majority of people with poor mental health are vulnerable will not put themselves or their views across. You can cut these services and think you can get away with it.”

Anyone struggling with loneliness, depression, or anxiety, as well as those with complex emotional needs, can currently call the helpline and are listened to and heard in a non-judgemental way.

Her daughter, who did not wish to be named, said: "I will feel abandoned as there is no other service like Suffolk Night Owls.

“It makes me feel hopeless, without that option to turn to I feel it increases the burden on my family.

“Suffolk Night Owls is a safe supportive space that makes you feel like an individual. I feel that they genuinely care about my wellbeing."

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said the team behind Night Owls will be working hard to ensure users of the service “find the support they need” over the next few weeks.

East Anglian Daily Times: Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk MindJon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind (Image: Suffolk Mind)

He added: "Suffolk Mind is committed to supporting, improving and raising awareness of mental health throughout the county.

“As a charity, the essential services we provide rely on fundraising, grants and contracts with the NHS and local government.

“Over the next few weeks, our hardworking team will try our best to ensure service users find the support they need.”

In a joint statement, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB and Suffolk County Council said: “When it was launched, Suffolk Night Owls was unique. There were few available services that offered people support who were living with emotional wellbeing and mental health need outside working hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).

“Over the years, the local health and care system has developed more support, including the introduction of STEAM cafes in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, NHS111 mental health option, and Greenlight Trust High Intensity Users Service.

“Notwithstanding the excellent service and highly skilled workforce within the Suffolk Night Owls service, with this additional provision that was not previously available, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB and Suffolk County Council have decided to stop the service.

“Both organisations remain fully committed to supporting the ongoing transformation of services for people with personality disorders and complex needs as part of the broader strategy.”