Spark celebrates new funding!

Spark celebrates new funding!

Spark celebrates after receiving funding from the National Lottery to help local young people with mental health challenges

Loughton-based Spark – a branch of national charity Worth Unlimited – is today celebrating after being awarded £40,000 a year for 3 years in National Lottery funding to support its counselling and mentoring work with young people living with mental health challenges. These funds will make it possible for Spark to increase its capacity to offer appointments to young people who need 1-1 support and to run more well-being workshops in schools and in the community.

Having set up as Grace Academy in 2009, to deliver alternative education programmes to Years 10 and 11, the charity became Spark in 2015 and then began to focus solely on counselling and mentoring in 2018, in response to local young people’s changing needs. Spark is supported by Essex County Council Youth Service, who allow Spark to use the Loughton Youth Centre premises for its appointments and commission them to deliver some of the workshops.

The National Lottery cash will fund Spark’s core team of three staff. The rest of Spark’s team is made up of around 20 trained or trainee volunteer counsellors and 20 volunteer community mentors – local people with a heart for working with young people to help them reach their potential – who are trained by Spark.

Spark now sees over 100 young people a week between the ages of 11 and 23. 1-1 counselling and mentoring sessions are offered to young people who self-refer or are referred by their school or college, their GP or other NHS agency, or their parent or guardian – often without the need for a waiting list. Through these sessions, a consistent and positive role model helps each young person work through any challenges they are facing and learn strategies to cope with their emotions, instilling greater confidence and self-belief. Spark also runs well-being workshops, in schools and in the community, covering a wide range of issues including anxiety, healthy relationships and gangs, equipping young people with the ability to make the right life choices.

“We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now we will be able to train more volunteers and offer more appointments. This is important because it’s clear to us that there is a huge need for this type of support for young people in the Epping Forest community. In addition, increasing the number of workshops we offer enables us to reach even more young people, to help them navigate the issues they are facing in their formative years and make good life choices and reach their potential.”

Adele Rogers, manager of Spark 

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will mean that Spark can increase its capacity to offer appointments, train more volunteers and host more well-being workshops.

At the same time Spark will be able to press on with plans, in partnership with Epping Forest District Council, to introduce support sessions for young people’s parents through a nurturing course, to help them build healthier family relationships. Spark will also ramp up its plans to begin mentoring drop-in sessions in local schools.

Nicky, mum of a teen who has been receiving counselling through Spark, says:

“The 1-1 sessions every week have helped our daughter so much… counselling has given her the tools to be able to express herself and deal with her feelings. Our family have noticed a massive difference in our lives, as we sit down and talk to each other more. She is doing so much better now and with the continued support from Spark her future is looking much brighter. I am so happy that more local families can now be helped thanks to National Lottery players.”     

For more information about Spark's work, becoming a volunteer or making a referral, please contact us by calling 020 8508 6743 or emailing

Find out more about The National Lottery Community Fund

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