Sunderland early years counselling service is first product of new start-up drive

A counselling service to improve the mental health of children in Sunderland is the first business to be born from a programme designed to encourage start-ups in the west area of the city.

By Kevin Clark
Monday, 20 May, 2019, 09:44
Kirsty Miller, Nicola Pallas & Joanne Pallas.

The Prospecting for Enterprise Initiative was launched in September last year and is designed to take the expert support of advisers from North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) on the road to six wards in Sunderland.

The project aims to reach as many people as possible in the Pallion, St Anne’s, Barnes, Silksworth, St Chad’s and Sandhill areas who have an idea to start up a business or want to explore self-employment.

North Star Counselling CIC is the first business to launch after accessing the programme and now aims to reach children who are struggling with mental health issues – especially those whose parents otherwise could not afford to pay for private sessions.

Counsellor Nicola Pallas, who has set up the business in Kayll Road with fellow directors Joanne Pallas and Kirsty Miller, said: “Mental health services in our area are under incredible pressure – especially those designed for children.”

“We often hear horror stories of children being turned away when they are at the point of crisis and having to wait up to two years for appointments.

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“Our motivation for setting up this new business is to run group sessions to help plug a gap in what is available to support children in real need. We can act as a stepping stone until children can access more intensive support.”

North Star Counselling CIC will run a programme called Creative Minds, targeting issues including worry and anxiety through workshops using crafts and activities to create a relaxed a fun environment where children feel comfortable and safe to open up about their thoughts.

“I approached the BIC for help setting up a new venture that could raise money to do good in the community and found out we were eligible for this brilliant initiative,” said Nicola.

“The advice of Kevin Marquis and Ernest Dodds has been spot on. They are real experts in social enterprise.”