A PIONEERING counselling service aimed at youngsters in Basingstoke is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

Relateen was established in 1993 by Basingstoke and Deane's Relate service, which is now based at The Orchard, in White Hart Lane, Basingstoke. It was the first specialist counselling service aimed primarily at youngsters struggling with their parents' divorce or separation and is now a well-known and valued service, attracting 90 new cases each year.

A recent 10th year celebration was attended by borough mayor Cllr Gerry Traynor, Lynden Jones, the president of Relate, Evelyn Askew, Relateen manager, Cllr Su Peters and Relateen councillors.

Mr Jones, who was a member of the steering committee that initially set up Relateen, said: "I'm so pleased to have seen it progress. It's been a real struggle getting the message across because it was such a new concept, but now it's incredible."

Relateen is aimed at young people aged 11 to 25 and provides a chance for them to talk to someone outside their family about the breakdown of their parents' relationship. The service is staffed by qualified councillors and is held on a confidential one-to-one basis after school or college.

Ms Askew said: "It's been a well used service and we see about 10 to 12 young people every week whose parents are separated or divorced. It's grown over the last 10 years and we get families referring themselves and also referrals from doctors and schools. Youngsters are not afraid to talk about family break-ups any more and are talking about coming to Relateen with their friends."

Relateen was initially funded by a £3,000 grant from Children In Need and then the National Lottery's Community Fund. The service is run free of charge, although donations are requested from those over 18 years old.

For information on Relateen, call 01256 324364 or visit www.relate-basingstoke.org.uk