PEOPLE who find themselves in difficulty with an unplanned pregnancy can get help and support from a new crisis centre in Evesham.

Archways was officially opened today (Thursday) by Evesham Mayor Mark Goodge and Mid-Worcestershire MP, Sir Peter Luff, who cut the ribbon in front of a large group of volunteers and supporters of the charity.

Located on the first floor of the Library arcade in the High Street, the centre has a team of 12 trained councillors from churches around the Vale who offer women and their partners free help and support for any current or previous pregnancies causing them emotional distress.

The centre also provides a listening ear for anyone experiencing distress after an abortion or miscarriage.

Founded by John and Linda Smith, of Bretforton, the couple have been running a similar centre Stillwaters, in Kings Heath, Birmingham, for the last 20 years.

Speaking at the opening, Mr Smith said: "It's been quite a journey that we got to this place. Probably 11 years ago when we came to Evesham we realised there wasn't a pregnancy crisis centre in the area.

"We are here to care for people who are suffering to try and help the people who have got needs and try and encourage decision making."

Sir Peter Luff, Mid Worcestershire MP said the centre's work was extremely important.

"It's not the amount that come through the door but the quality of advice you offer," he said. "I welcome people to come here and use this critical service in the town."

Evesham Mayor Mark Goodge said: "I'm really pleased to see its finally open. I am sure it's going to be a place of real benefit to the town and the area. It's to the great credit to the town that people have come together to do this."

Centre manager Gill Woods added: "This is where the work really starts. This is where we get our clients and this is where we start putting our counselling skills into practice."

The centre is funded in many ways including a £5,000 grant from Wychavon and a Solihull church which is paying the first year's rent.

But supporters can still make donations, set up standing orders or collect baby bottles from the centre's reception to fill with loose change to keep it going in the future.

The centre is open for drop-in sessions from 10am and 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and other times by appointment. For details call 01386 247249.