Joanne Pallas, Kirsty Miller and Nicola Pallas of North Star Counselling.
Jane Imrie

Sunderland mental health service secures five-figure funding with North East BIC support

A North East mental health services provider has secured five-figure funding to support local people during the pandemic.

Creative Minds – run by North Star Counselling CIC – has secured a total of £55k of grant funding targeted at helping the recovery of communities following COVID-19.

The firm secured the funding after working with the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) to support its growth.

The funding - from sources including the National Lottery, Barbour Foundation, Hadrian Foundation, Postcode Lottery, Clothworkers’ Foundation and the government - has enabled the firm to grow its team to 11 counsellors.

Creative Minds’ founder Nicola Pallas explained: “Our original motivation to set up Creative Minds as a social enterprise was to create a way to reach out to those who are in crisis and this has worked incredibly well when it came to responding to the pandemic.

“We’d not have been able to support our community in the same way if we’d not already put in the ground work with the BIC that allowed us to access funding for new services. They’ve been with us every step of the way from setting up our payroll to writing funding bids.”

Creative Minds was the first business to be born from the city’s Prospecting for Enterprise Initiative in 2019, a programme which aims to encourage start-ups in the west area of the city.

Kevin Marquis, social enterprise manager at the BIC, added: “Creative Minds is a fantastic example of an ambitious social enterprise that is rising to the challenge of Covid-19 to help its community.

“It’s also a great example of how Prospecting for Enterprise is bringing about positive change to the people of Sunderland.”

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