Lyndon Brooks, founder of Be Brave Counselling CIC.
Lyndon Brooks, founder of Be Brave Counselling CIC.

Veteran turned entrepreneur launches Sunderland business to tackle mental health crisis

A veteran turned entrepreneur is joining the fight to tackle the UK’s mental health crisis after launching his own counselling business.

Lyndon Brooks, from Sunderland, set up Be Brave Counselling CIC after hearing of two fellow veterans who had taken their own lives. Having served in the Royal Logistic Corps from 1991 to 1998, he went on to work as a HGV driver before deciding to enrol to study counselling at the University of Sunderland in 2020.

The decision to try something new followed a realisation by Lyndon of the lack of support available to veterans leaving the forces and the “gaping hole” within mental health provision in the UK.

He explained: “I have always wanted to do something to make a real difference in people’s lives so when I found out that two fellow veterans had taken their own lives, I decided to get involved in counselling.

“It was just before lockdown when I made the decision. I’d been a HGV driver for 30 years and I thought it would be nice to not only have my weekends off and lead a more ‘normal life’ but also do something that really helped people, so it just gave me the impetus to do it.”

Working part-time while studying, Lyndon finished University in the Summer of 2023 and upon graduating decided to set up his own business, Be Brave Counselling. Operating out of Betsy Jenny Café in Sunderland city centre, Lyndon and his colleague Danielle Hoggett, with whom he studied at university, began trading in November.

He said: “We’re based at the Betsy Jenny Counselling Café in Sunderland which has been a revelation for us. I knew Steve Lynn who owns it as he is an old friend, and everyone is really welcoming. It’s right in the middle of Sunderland, making it easily accessible and it has private meeting rooms designed with activities such as counselling sessions in mind.”

Lyndon’s service in the Royal Logistic Corps saw him serve in tours of Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland and it was this experience which inspired him to contact the North East BIC and join the Veterans RV programme.

Set up to help former armed forces personnel use their wide-ranging skills to start up their own businesses, Lyndon was one of 17 people who took part in the programme and went on to set up his own business as a result.

He added: “Having graduated from university, I felt confident in my ability to counsel, but I’d never run a business before so the idea of setting one up was an alien concept, especially the legalities and financial side of starting up a social enterprise. Joining the Veterans RV programme however just made the whole process seamless.”

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