Vulnerable people with mental health problems will lose a vital support network when a cash-strapped art project is forced to shut its doors next month.

Staff at the Doorways scheme, which offers art therapy and training sessions in Feltham, say they are worried about the effect its closure will have on dozens of troubled users.

"We help around 80 people each year manage their mental health through creativity," said Pauline King, who helps run the scheme from a converted public toilet in Hanworth Road.

"Many of them rely on the scheme to bring order to their lives and boost their self esteem. To allow us to close would be a false economy because it costs the country much more if people wind up in hospital." 

The project, which is part of the Feltham Open Door charity, is the only place locally where people with problems ranging from depression to bipolar disorder can develop their creative skills.

Work produced at the centre is often sold on, helping with funding and boosting the self esteem of the artists.

Volunteer Deanne Duff-Cole has been visiting Doorways for 18 months and says it has helped her recovery enormously.

"It's a wonderful place," she said. "They've really given me back my confidence. Seeing people spend money on my work is a brilliant feeling and I can't imagine what it will be like when they're gone."

Since it was set up six years ago, the scheme has received most of its funding from the National Lottery.

But Doorways' staff have already been told that when that money dries up this September Hounslow Council will not be meeting the shortfall.

A council spokesman said: "While we sympathise with the position that Feltham Open Door finds itself in regarding this particular service, we cannot pick up the costs of funding it now its external funding has expired.

"It is not unusual for the Lottery or other bodies to support a service in the short term, and it would be impossible and unrealistic for the council to be expected to meet the costs of all those services once their funding ends, especially in light of the limited resources available."

The project is now in a race against time to find the £40,000 it needs to keep the workshops running next year.

"We need someone to cover our core costs," said arts coordinator Joan McIntyre. "Without that it's pretty much impossible for us to raise the rest of the money we need.

"We're running out of time now. Without help this service will be gone by the end of the month."

To contact the project call Joan and Pauline on 020 8890 9538 or email doorways@felthamopen