My passion was working in domestic abuse

NW Counselling Hub, Key Fund
Naomi Watkins - NW Counselling Hub

When Naomi Watkins switched careers as a Deputy Manager in a Nursery to become a Counsellor, she knew straight away she had made the right choice.

“My passion was working in domestic abuse, because of my personal experience of being in an abusive relationship,” she said.

In the ten years she’s worked in the field, Naomi has witnessed an increase in demand with a decrease in funding for local services and the NHS crisis team. Two Key Fund investments helped secure another building and recruit a full-time hub coordinator.

Key fund were so passionate about what we do, so supportive about what we’ve achieved, and could see our vision and listen to our ideas.

Noticing a rise in the number of people with suicidal intent at the hub, Naomi has been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship to undertake research in Australia on suicide prevention – knowledge she plans to bring back, and implement.

“It’s grandiose to say we’re saving lives, but we actually are. We’re very proud of what we do and we’re certainly not taking our foot off the gas anytime soon,” Naomi said.

Today, they have nine counselling rooms and over 800 referrals. “It’s been a massive leap,” Naomi said. “We’ve taken on lots of different counsellors with different specialisms, and more child-focused counsellors as about 50% of referrals are children.”

After completing his qualifications, Charlie approached NWCH after it opened to ask for a placement and was invited for interview.

NW Counselling Hub, Key Fund
Charlie NWCH

Charlie quickly rose to Business Development Manager, and just recently, was promoted as acting Director.

“It’s one of the benefits of working in a small business. I’ve grown with the business.My progress in the company has been able to build relationships with local services, seeing how we can work together.” He cites examples of working with Addaction to reach people who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, who are often ‘looked down on’ in society; the hub provides a safe, welcoming environment to encourage support.

He’s keen to break down barriers and support the hard-to-reach, particularly young men where suicide rates are high.

“As a young counselor I’m able to pull from the knowledge and experience around me which is fantastic and has helped me develop as a counselor and as a young man, I think that shows in the work I do. It’s given me an understanding of pain and empathy, which is quite crucial for anyone in our job role.”

“My dad died when I was nine, which made me more emotionally aware from quite a young age. I’ve had counseling throughout my life. As I got to the end of school, my brothers and sisters wanted me to get a trade, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do.” – Charlie