A University of Lincoln graduate has established a successful counselling service in Lincolnshire supporting local children, young people and families. Alex Parkin, from Lincoln, graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care from the University in May 2017 shortly after co-founding the successful NW Counselling Hub CIC. Having worked in various care and supporting roles for most of her adult life, Alex felt that there was a gap in the provision and support available. With some communities in Lincolnshire finding it difficult to access mental health support, and counselling services, Alex and co-founder Naomi Watkins recognised the need to make counselling services more accessible in the county. The counselling hub now has a team of eighteen trained counsellors, offering mental health support for local communities as well as training opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in counselling. The hub provides a range of supportive therapies to suit age, need and demand and has been specially designed to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to talk. The team also has two therapy dogs.
Alex said: “People can sometimes be waiting months for the counselling support they need in the here and now. By creating the hub ourselves, we have been able to tailor a service for the wider community. Since opening in April 2017, we have been able to help more than 180 people. We believe this is down to the family-friendly feel, our open-minded staff and the lack of waiting lists along with the funding support we can provide.
She said her time at the University of Lincoln studying Health and Social Care had enabled her to develop her ideas.
“The course wasn’t just focused on one way of thinking or one specific idea,” she said. “In addition to the underpinning laws, policies and guidance, the course offered varied modules, viewpoints and learning materials which have enabled me to take a holistic approach to my job now. “I believe being self-employed and running a company has allowed me to use the knowledge even more as I have been able to use the teaching materials and also my tutor’s experiences and knowledge to ensure I shape the business in a way that works for the service user and empowers them. I couldn’t be where I am now without the tutors on the Health and Social Care team.”
Julie Burton, Programme Leader in the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln said: “Alex is quite simply inspirational. She has taken every opportunity offered while at University and used it to its full advantage.
“Alex actually met her co-director when attending a Domestic Abuse conference organised by the students which led to work-based practice. Alex was also a student rep and we have seen her confidence grow so much during her time studying Health and Social Care.”
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