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Business & Economy

Armed forces veteran aims to strengthen the region’s mental health through Innovate for Good

Sunderland-based counsellor and former Royal Navy sailor, Mark Walsh, is on a mission to support armed forces veterans, third sector workers and others struggling with mental health issues by taking part in a new project.

Mark is one of a dozen social entrepreneurs to join Innovate for Good – the North East’s first business incubator dedicated to developing social enterprises.

Launched in March this year by the North East BIC, the incubator offers a six-month programme of training and support to businesses with ideas to change the world for the better.

Mark is working with North East BIC advisers, a dedicated mentor and other social entrepreneurs to see how his business, Lighthouse Therapy Group CIC, can reach more people and have a greater impact across the region.

Mark said: “I joined the Navy at the age of 17 and became very aware of the mental health challenges facing veterans and those in service and always wanted to do something about it. That’s why I trained to become a counsellor and launched my own practice.

“Since then I’ve become aware of the pressures on so many others, including hard-working people who are simply struggling to balance the pressures of modern life and suffering with anxiety and low self-esteem.

“I’m determined to find ways to help people find some peace, to reconnect with the world around them, with each other and themselves.”

Mark is working with the BIC’ social enterprise manager, Kevin Marquis, and is collaborating with other social entrepreneurs to consider solution to real-world problems, including the new to provide training and work experience opportunities to people suffering with mental health issues.

Mark added: “Innovate for Good has provided me with a network of invaluable contacts and direct access to real-life scenarios that are already leading to inspiring ideas.

“This is an incredibly worthwhile initiative and the timing couldn’t be better for such an effort to bring about positive change in the world.

“I’d like to think that this is just the beginning of a new wave of socially-conscious businesses in the North East and it’s really exciting to be part of this process of change.

“It would be naïve to think that my individual project will lead to a huge shift in society, but even small ripples make a big difference.”

Kevin Marquis said: Kevin Marquis said: “The social enterprise model enables businesses to explore new ways to fund services and reach more people, so it was a perfect fit for Mark.

“It opens the door to joint working with other organisations and exciting possibilities to support charities with specialist services.

“There is now huge potential for Lighthouse Therapy Group CIC to do good in Sunderland and I can’t wait to see what plans come out of the work we’re doing within the Innovate for Good project.”