A mental health service group has seen numbers dropped by a third since weekly charges were introduced a month ago.

Stevenage Wellbeing Centre, run by mental health charity Mind, started charging some of its users £10 in July to access up to three support sessions a week.

The charge, which applies to people in employment or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, has seen the group’s weekly Wednesday drop-in attendance fall from 30 members to 20 this month.

But remaining members of the group say that the DLA is there to pay for services like Mind and not for people to spend on themselves.

Jane Stanhope, 44, who has used the centre for over a year, said: “I am more than happy to pay because that is why the government gives us this money.

“Centres like this provide fantastic services and charge very little. If you went somewhere privately then you’d pay far more and I think people can forget that.”

Wendy Rose, 50, said: “Some people have got used to spending the money on themselves and all of a sudden they’re being told that actually they’re going to have to spend £10 a week on services that were previously free and a lot of them don’t like change.

“I personally don’t have any issue with what’s happened because these services have to be paid for and that is what this money is for.”

John Storey, 72, who has used the centre for more than five years, said: “I can afford it but I just worry about people that can’t and worry that they won’t be able to access this fantastic service.

“These places are worth their weight in gold and I don’t know where I’d be without them so I’m just scared that people might be put off by the charge.”