A charity which has helped thousands of young people has run out of money and will have to close.

Junction, in Newhaven, has offered free advice and support to teenagers from an area including Seaford, Peacehaven and Lewes for the past 18 years.

But lottery funding has run out and a bid for cash from East Sussex County Council has been rejected.

Secretary Graham Millett said funding for staff, estimated at £45,000 a year, has dried up.

A lottery grant of £195,000 over three years ran out in 2005 and it had been hoped the council would cover the deficit.

Five staff members will lose their jobs when Junction, in Meeching Road, Newhaven, closes at the end of the month.

Drop-in sessions at Seaford Head Community College, Seaford, and South Downs College, Lewes, will also close.

Mr Millett said: "We offer independent, free advice on sexual health, unwanted pregnancy, drug issues, and all manner of other services for the homeless and unemployed. We worry where they will go for advice now."

Young people who use Junction have signed a petition to try to stop the closure.

Nikkita Parker, 17, of Newfield Road, Newhaven, who wrote the letter with the petition, said: "It's a great service. It has helped me a lot and it has helped my friends."

Mr Millett said GPs had also voiced their concerns about the loss of the service.

He said: "The council has a responsibility to the young people who rely on their funding."

John Tovey, head of the children's services commissioning unit at the council, said: "Junction is too small to be viable. They did not have the infrastructure."

The council would offer alternative services and advice on mental and sexual health.

But Mr Millett said: "The council won't be offering counselling, and it won't be the independent advice young people can get at the moment. The main benefit of our charity is the many different services we have in one place. That won't be the case any more."