Inspiring Business by Sharing Success


Counsellors are celebrating a £60,000 “super boost” which has allowed them to double the size of their Lincoln Hub - spelling fantastic news for clients and fellow professionals.


WCH has been awarded the money by The Key Fund and unlocked the Hub’s CEO/co-founder Naomi Watkins and co-founder Alex Parkin’s dream of creating more counselling rooms and leasing a second building for use as a dedicated training centre.  

The package of blended funding -  made up of £50,000 in loan finance and a £10,000 grant - will allow the community interest company to achieve its ambitions of helping more people, because the training centre will generate a fresh source of income for the future sustainability of the enterprise.

Twenty-five people, including 18 counsellors, now work out of the Hub, which is seeing a rising demand for its services. Naomi and Alex are also delighted that they have great support from the University of Lincoln to achieve their training ambitions.

Naomi said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the support received from The Key Fund.  This is vital to our plans to grow and help more individuals and families, as well as to train more people for our profession.

“To receive such important backing less than a year after we opened our doors is amazing.  It highlights The Key Fund’s confidence in our business plans.”

News of the funding comes just months after Naomi and Alex received a £25,000 grant from The Bromhead Medical Charity for the Hub’s Acorn project, which aims to help rebuild young lives blighted by sexual abuse or rape.

The fast-growing Hub, which provides support for both qualified and training counsellors, has also just recruited one of its trained team, Charlie Blackwell, to the role of Business Development Manager.

“Up until receiving The Key Fund’s support we had three counselling rooms.  Now we have reconfigured our original premises to create six – two for children and four for adults,” said Naomi. 

“One is situated on the ground floor for use by people with disabilities.  All have been decorated in ways which are designed to put our clients at their ease.  We also have a downstairs reception area and staff room.

“Excitingly, we have now leased a neighbouring (second) building on the city’s Allenby Road Industrial Estate, which contains a large upstairs training room and two break-out rooms. Downstairs there are our offices and a staff lounge.

“Since last April we have had 220 referrals, from a variety of sources, including the mental health charity The Richmond Fellowship, The Bromhead Medical Charity, Parents and Autistic Children Together (PAACT), NACRO, The Nomad Trust, Scunthorpe-based Team Verrico, schools, Macmillan Nurses and other medical professionals.

“We are seeing people of all ages, including a rise in the referral of younger and homeless people. January was extra busy.  We saw many people who had tried hard to get through Christmas, but then found themselves struggling with anxiety and depression. They were keen to start 2018 in a better way,” said Naomi.

The Hub is already providing Level Two training in Counselling Skills – under the nationally-recognised AIM Awards - but this Summer it will also start offering Levels three, four and five training, supported by the University of Lincoln.

Alex said: “With the increasing need for counselling services, we are really proud to have set-up our new training facility and to have the expertise of the University of Lincoln’s staff to call on.”

The Key Fund’s Investment Manager – East Region Asha Karbhari said: “It was a pleasure working with Naomi and Alex in putting their proposal (for funding) together, seeing the great work achieved in such a short time frame and the potential social impact the enterprise has the ability to achieve going forward.”

She said, not only does the enterprise support individuals and family members, giving them access to affordable and appropriate specialist advice, counselling and support services, it also provides support to specialists in the field, through training and ongoing CPD (continuing professional development) requirements.

Sally Riggall and Julie Burton are Senior Lecturers Health & Social Care at the University of Lincoln. Julie is leader on the BSc course. Both attend NWCH Panel meetings.

“We have worked with Naomi and Alex for some time and Alex was one of our BSc students. We are happy to support them and to promote the Hub to our students. Hopefully we will have some students for their counselling training,” said Sally.

“We also have the use of the Hub for conferences and Naomi and Alex are guest speakers for our students, for which we are very grateful.”  


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