Celebrating 40 Years of Sunderland Counselling Service


Sunderland Counselling Service Established 1983

In 2023 we celebrated 40 years of Sunderland Counselling Service.


  • In 1983 Sunderland Counselling Service started as a small bereavement counselling service run entirely by volunteers.
  • In 1988 we were registered as a Charity.
  • In 1994 we started supporting Children and Young People and gained our first funded post. We gained additional funded posts in the late 90s and early 00s and in 2007 we had a staff team of 12 working alongside a pool of volunteers. We now employ over 165 members of staff.


A History of Sunderland Counselling Service

A timeline of our services past and present:


Bereavement counselling


Children and Young People Bereavement Service starts “The service was quite a unique… offering therapeutic bereavement support for children & young people. It continued to grow very organically, based on the needs of the young people, developing a programme of groupwork and individual support that was co-produced with young people.”


'Caring Together Making a Difference'; 'Counselling for Life Limited'; and 'Careline'.


SAFE project

Pennywell Youth Project “a wonderful, bright environment that in a world of grief and loss helped instil hope”


Women’s Service


Counselling in CAMHS.


‘Core’ Counselling service (now called our Primary Care Counselling Service or ‘GP’ service)


Palliative Care Counselling

Macmillan counselling (now cancer counselling)

Sunderland IAPT goes lives and we provide Step 2 therapies

CAMHS becomes a BACP accredited service


Reach Counselling

GP counselling service in South Tyneside


Counselling in local schools across Sunderland

St Benedict’s Hospice Adult and Children's Counselling

Carers Therapy in Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service


Women’s Service became CASSVA and we started to provide these services for men as well

Occupational Health Counselling for Sunderland Council

Sunderland Adult services become BACP accredited


Male Rape Support Counselling Project

Talking Matters Northumberland Step 2 low intensity therapy and step 3 counselling


Step 2 counselling in North Tyneside Talking Therapies

Counselling as part of Wise Steps project


Children's Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners started in CAMHS


Counselling at Durham and Darlington Talking Changes


Good Vibes Youth Club Counselling


COVID counselling and support


Step 3 PCE-CfD Pilot North Tyneside Talking Therapies (permanent from 2023)

Providing paid training places as part of the new High Intensity Psychotherapeutic Counselling training route

Community Mental Health Link Work

Listening Ear

Maternal Mental Health Link Work


Community Treatment Team Counselling in Sunderland

Children and Young People Link Workers in CAMHS


Psychiatric Liaison Team Link Work


(See 'Our Services' Page for more detail on our current services)

40th Anniversary Celebrations in 2023

In commemoration of our 40th birthday, we planned a very special year of events and projects. This included:

  • 40th Anniversary Community Grants Programme
  • Bursary Scheme for a student to complete a BA (Hons) Degree in Counselling at University of Sunderland
  • We sponsored the BACP Student conference
  • 40th Celebration in November with all staff at our AGM
  • All staff received an extra day annual leave on their birthday


40th Anniversary Community Grants Programme

We introduced a Community Grants programme in which we awarding grants to organisations supporting the community who share similar aims to our own to:

  • Promote and improve mental health and emotional well-being for adults, children and young people.
  • Provide services which assist in relieving suffering from emotional and/or mental distress.
  • Enable and empower users of our service to live independently in the community as valued citizens.
  • Work in partnership with other services in the statutory and voluntary sectors.


We provided 5 grants in total across the areas where we currently work – Sunderland, Northumberland, North Tyneside, County Durham. The following organisations received these grants:

LD: North East

LD: North East are a local charity supporting people across North Tyneside who have lived experience of learning disabilities, learning difficulties and autism.

LD: North East's work is all about bringing people together. The believe that everyone deserves to have fun, spend time with friends and feel good about themselves and their mission is to support people to do just that, from birth right through to older life. Their vision is to achieve equality and social inclusion so people can live their life their way. Find Out More

Building Self Belief

Building Self-Belief is a charity based in the North East of England, focused on improving the wellbeing of young people in need and supporting them to build their self-belief.

Building Self-Belief have developed a series of programmes that are all designed to improve the self-confidence and self-belief of young people. These include our Wellbeing, Employability, Heritage and Environmental Programmes. Our aim is to create stronger connections between our young people and their communities. We give them a greater sense of purpose and help them realise their full potential in life.

Find Out More

Mind & Sole

Mind & Sole is a health and wellbeing group based in Alnwick. They provide walking and talking sessions, cold water therapy and support groups. They provide the following support groups: Cancer; Addiction and Recovery; Autism and Neurodivergent; Chronic Pain; Buddy System and Talking Support; and Hear Today.

Find Out More


ICOS (or International Community Organisation of Sunderland) exists to improve the quality of life of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the North East and to enhance community cohesion and intercultural understanding in this area.

ICOS offer:

  • Information, Advice, Guidance and Advocacy work (individual casework) in a wide range of diverse areas, from employability to welfare rights
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Cultural activities

ICOS aim to:

  • Connect people to opportunities
  • Defend people’s rights
  • Bring people from different cultural backgrounds together

Find Out More

Keep Active

Keep Active is a Community Interest Company that inspires children, young people and adults to achieve success through sport, fitness, dance, cooking and creative activities in order to encourage everyone to lead healthy and more fulfilled lives.

Keep Active organise group activities on behalf of schools, health services and community groups with health, well-being and inclusivity at the heart of everything they do. By promoting health, fitness, well-being and happiness in supportive group environments, they build confidence and encourage everyone to adopt healthier lifestyles. Find Out More

Bursary Scheme

As part of our celebrations we provided a Bursary Scheme for one student to undertake a BA(hons) Degree in Counselling at Sunderland University.

Dima Jafar was the successful applicant and she told us:

"I'm so grateful to Sunderland Counselling Service for offering this bursary, and for awarding me the opportunity to further my education.

Becoming a counsellor has been a deeply fulfilling endeavour, and I feel this training will enable me to have more of a positive impact on my clients' lives."

For more information including annual reports and financial reports, please follow the link below to the Charity Commission: