A £100,000 funding boost will help North East Counselling Services (NECS) support more young people with mental health issues.

NECS, which was set up in 2006, offers support for both adults and children but, with increasing demand in children’s mental health services, they are aiming to reach more young people in need than ever before.

Now they will be able to put their plans into action with £100,000 from the North East Social Investment Fund, managed by Northstar Ventures.

Chief Executive of NECS, Marjorie Hunter said, “We were set up as, and still are, a Community Interest Company, aiming to tackle health and social care inequalities.  There have been so many changes within our sector over the years that we have to take a different approach to be able to realise our vision now. To be able to help more people who need our support, we have introduced an income generating model, charging corporate and private clients who are able to pay, so that we can put the money back into making sure that others can access our services at low or no cost. This will make us financially sustainable and able to reach more of the people, in particularly, children who need our help and aren’t able to get it anywhere else.  In some areas of the North East young people experience extremely long waiting times to receive counselling, whereas we are able to provide the help they need within days.

“This investment from the NESIF is a huge help, it’s going to make sure we get all of the foundations right – systems, buildings, and staffing, so we can then scale up and expand from a strong base and in the right way. We’ve also been able to appoint Carol Smith as our first Commercial Director.”

NECS is now operating from three sites, in Gosforth Regent Centre, Gateshead Advice Centre, and new premises at Metropolitan House in the West of Gateshead, as well as working in schools and within businesses.

Peter Gilson, Northstar Ventures Investment Manager, said, “The charity landscape is changing and more social enterprises are looking for longer term, more sustainable funding. The North East Social Investment Fund provides this, offering those who are willing to embrace a different model to the traditional, investment that can really make a difference to their organisation and clients.  We are impressed, not just with the long track record of NECS, but with their vision for the future and a team passionate about making changes, which will ultimately benefit those most in need of their support.  We are delighted to be supporting them in moving to the next level of their business, and look forward to them having a positive impact on even more lives.”

NECS spoke to Northstar early on in their journey to prepare the organisation to be ready for investment, they were also supported along the way Scaleup North East.

Laura Foster, NECS’ Scaleup Partner on the Scaleup NE programme, commented: “The Scaleup NE programme is lucky to work with some of the most ambitious and exciting SMEs in the region and there are a wealth of great business stories to tell. It’s also true that some communities in the North East are among the worst affected by health and social care inequalities. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that we are seeing a rise in organisations like NECS, which is embracing a commercial model and raising funds so that it can reinvest in vital services for some of the region’s most disadvantaged people. The NECS story is not just about commercial success; their team’s work has a huge impact on the lives of children and their families in the North East and we have been delighted to be able to support this phase of their journey.”