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Long-awaited celebration goes with a swing!

Long-awaited celebration goes with a swing!

Eighty people applauded the real power of professional counselling when they threw themselves into the party mood to celebrate a Lincoln community interest company’s 5th birthday!

There was a fantastic atmosphere when guests joined Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub (NWCH CIC) therapists and their colleagues at the Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Brayford Wharf for an unforgettable night.

From the moment Hub Chief Executive Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska welcomed special guests, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Lincoln, Councillor Jackie Kirk, her Consort Michael Williams and Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, Mr Marc Jones, it was evident that everyone was happy to be meeting face-to-face again.

The Mayor, who has visited NWCH said she was impressed by its work. Mr Jones said both the police and the Hub were both in the business of wanting to help people to make changes in their lives and it was important that they had the support to do so. He was delighted to have been able to support NWCH with national funding over the past two years.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic, NWCH was unable to formally celebrate its third and fourth birthdays, at a time when therapists were deluged with calls for its life-saving sessions.

At the height of the Pandemic the team transitioned from doing face-to-face therapy to offering online and telephone support and helped up to 800 people a month. Amazingly, over the past five years NWCH therapists have supported nearly 5,000 people.

Naomi said:

“I now have a 30-strong team, which includes 18 fully trained counsellors. We work out of three neighbouring properties. I am extremely proud of the way in which we are helping clients who may be battling anxiety, depression, sexual or domestic abuse, trying to stop self-harming or those with suicidal ideation."

Naomi also gets a real buzz out of providing training for individuals who aspire to join the profession.

Guests heard true stories of how NWCH’s support has changed their lives for the better, although their identities remained confidential.

They included a former University student, who despite struggling with depression, anxiety, anorexia nervosa and having a borderline personality disorder, had moved to Lincoln to study.

She had been told by previous medics she needed to seek private therapy and was signposted to NWCH and had 18 therapy sessions.

“That client told us her sessions had put her back in charge of her recovery. Working with her therapist and Ellie, one of our therapy dogs, had helped her to understand herself better, provided her with a safe space to talk about difficult topics and helped her to get past her barriers,” said Naomi.

Today that person is still using the coping mechanisms she learned, and she is keen to start work as a peer support worker within children and adolescent mental health services.

“A medical professional, with a good job, a great family and a lovely home had suffered a severe and unexpected mental health shutdown in 2017 and, after seeing two non-NWCH counsellors, had been advised they needed something more.

“She told us she was, “so desperate, scared and lost and that this was, without doubt, the most terrifying period of their life’ and that they had no idea where life was taking her,” said Naomi.

“They had been encouraged to contact us because we offered evening and weekend appointments, whilst it had become evident that others only dealt with mental health concerns which occurred “during office hours!”

“That client told us that, right from the initial phone call to the Hub, they felt reassured that NWCH could help them. Their experience of therapy was like sitting down to chat with a friend. It felt informal, friendly and safe.”

Naomi added that former clients, who may feel under pressure months or years after undergoing therapy, are always welcomed to contact the Hub and make an appointment for a follow-up session.

The anniversary celebrations included a three-course meal, a live band, dancing and the presentation of Level 4 Counselling certificates to Nick Briggs, Georgie Kehoe and Katie Lane.

Naomi also presented gifts to NWCH support staff Sally Watkins, Diane Haines, Christopher Morris and Anna Foxx-Neal.

The event ended on a high note, thanks to a bumper raffle and a game of heads and tails, which had initially raised at least £600 in donations for NWCH, with ticket sales of over £800.

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