Be Brave Counselling CIC

Lyndon Brooks
Lyndon Brooks, owner of Be Brave Counselling CIC

Veteran joins fight to tackle the UK’s 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.

Fifty year old 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.

“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,” he said.

“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 – whom he studied with at university – began trading in November and have already provided support to dozens of clients, from teenagers to mature adults.

“We’re based at the Betsy Jenny Counselling Café in Sunderland which has been a revelation for us,” he said. “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. It’s absolutely perfect.”

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.

“Having graduated from university, I felt confident in my ability to counsel, but I’d never ran 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.” he added.

“Joining the Veterans RV programme however just made the whole process seamless. Anthony McDermott and Mark Walsh who delivered it were both veterans and social enterprise advisers who had set up their own businesses and everyone else on the programme was in the same boat, so it was just so beneficial. I can’t thank them all enough for their support.”

The BIC’s social enterprise support in Sunderland aims to help develop the social economy within the city through the Wear Together Initiative, working with local residents and groups to start a social enterprise or co-operative and help the city’s social enterprises to develop and grow.

Be Brave Counselling CIC

Anthony McDermott, BIC business adviser and Armed Forces Ambassador said: “It fills us with great pride to have supported Lyndon on his journey from coming up with his idea to turning it into a successful business creating a real positive impact on people’s lives.

“Veterans RV was set up as a pilot programme to help former armed forces personnel channel their multi-faceted skills and genuine desire to help others into setting up their own businesses and Lyndon is a fantastic example of that.

“He has used his skills and experience to fill a gap in the market for a service which is chronically needed and under-delivered and I have every confidence that he will go on to make a real success of it.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We have some fantastic social enterprises in the city who do such valuable work. Be Brave Counselling is another example of this community first spirit and it’s great to see Lyndon’s business take off.

“It is such a worthwhile and vital service that he is providing and to see him being able to change and improve his own life through helping others in this way is terrific.

“I look forward to seeing the other enterprises that I’m sure will be born out of the Wear Together programme.” 

The Wear Together Initiative has received £312,000 from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund Programme which is managed in Sunderland by Sunderland City Council on behalf of the Sunderland Partnership.

Sign up to our newsletter