Three women sharing the same vision to create a mental health service, bespoke to each individual, have set up a service in Shildon with no funding other than from clients. A funded service needs targets and criteria  which clients must meet before they can be offered a place on a waiting list, which can sometimes take 8 months.
Lynsey Curry, Maddy Hauxwell and Andrea Bartlett wanted to give them another choice so they founded “One Place Together”.
From their our own bad experiences of counselling and seeing the struggles people faced, trying to access help adequate for their needs, they decided to do something about it and enrolled on a college course where they all met.
They completed a counselling diploma at Bishop Auckland College, which was quite tough as they were mature students with jobs and family to juggle along with studies. The trio then signed up to do a Foundation Degree in Counselling run by Sunderland University accessed at Bishop Auckland College which was very convenient. In addition they had to fit in 100 hours of voluntary work as part on the criteria.
After completing the Degree they were given the opportunity to top up to a full honours travelling to Sunderland to get extra knowledge and achievement. This is when they started to talk about setting up their own practice.  “We wanted to open our doors to anyone who wanted to access mental health therapies and rather than all work separately as private therapists work in one place, together.
As a private practice there are overheads to cover and they need paying for their time and expertise. As there are three counsellors all working from the same premises the overheads such as rent, heating, water and electric are all shared out meaning they can reflect this in the price offered to the client. They can also see three times more clients so there is no waiting list.
“Clients can have a free, no obligation, initial appointment, to see for themselves who we are, where we are and what to expect from counselling. We hope this will help the clients to take that step and seek the support they need”. said Mandy.
OPT is at Dabble Duck Way in Shildon. Email: – Telephone 07596 672773 – Website: – Twitter: oneplace2gether – Facebook: One Place Together – Instagram: oneplacetogether

Lynsey Curry (31) Spennymoor suffered anxiety throughout her life. At the age of 16 she saw her doctor and broke down in tears so he gave her antidepressants. She felt a failure and was put on a waiting list to see a counsellor. it was not the best experience and after 3 appointments she decided not to go back.
When having a baby it was put down to baby blues, but she knew it was something more. She returned to the doctors, with antidepressants and on the list for counselling again which she thought she could do better herself. In her middle 20’s with a daughter starting school, no job Lynsey knew it is time to do something with her life so went to college and into counselling.

Andrea Bartlett (39) from Spennymoor, while working as a shift manager at McDonalds was involved in an armed robbery, held at knife point and made to hand over cash from the till. This is where her counselling journey began as this event changed her life. She got back to normal life, being a mother to two children, a wife, trudging to work doing dead end jobs. Eight years later and after a particularly difficult time in one of my jobs I sat down with my husband and he said he would support me in whatever I needed to do to make me happy so I decided to do something about it and signed up for a night course which was an introduction to counselling.

Madeleine Hauxwell (45) born in York now lives in Newton Aycliffe with her husband, 2 children and various pets. In her early career she worked in horse racing for 20 years and at one time was an apprentice jockey.  Her life experiences have been extreme taking her all over the world, and times which have been dark, abusive and challenging, which led her to fight for her life (literally). “Counselling was something that I have never been offered and my attitude towards it was ‘how can someone who hasn’t been through my life experiences possibly understand what I’m going through’ said Madeline. Seeing her family and friends suffering with different issues and palmed off with tablets, Maddy began to feel that there must be a better way of helping people. Her counsellor journey began with a placement with the RSACC (rape and sexual assault crisis centre). It takes a lot of courage for a person to seek help and when they do, they usually need it there and then and that is why myself and my colleagues have decided to set up OPT with an aim to help people get the help they need immediately.