The legacy of Jordan Banks as Blackpool mental health service given official status

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A man who accessed Counselling in the Community’s services is taking on a mammoth bike challenge to raise funds

 

Jordan Banks was killed in Blackpool last week after he was reportedly struck by lightning.
Jordan Banks was killed in Blackpool last week after he was reportedly struck by lightning. (Image: Lancs Live)

The legacy of a Blackpool schoolboy who died after being struck by lightning has been realised after a Blackpool mental health service was given charity status.

Counselling in the Community offers its services, a one hour session, in exchange for a donation and helps with issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance misuse.

Operating as an entirely donation-based service, the hub receives no government funding and around 50 dedicated volunteer counsellors, including some students, offer their services.

Before his tragic death, Stanley Primary School student Jordan Banks ran a marathon in honour of a close family member who took his own life in 2018, raising around £3,000 to support the service.

A highly empathetic and altruistic boy, Jordan understood the important work of Counselling in the Community and wished to donate the funds to their services.

This was one of the kinds gestures he made before he was sadly struck by lightning while playing football in Blackpool in May of this year.

The former community interest company (CIC) has worked hard to become an officially registered charity which is was granted last month.

Set up by counsellor Stuart Hutton-Brown around five years ago, the numbers of people accessing its services continues to grow and grow.

Its waitlist of two to four weeks still remains shorter than NHS lists for mental health services.

Furniture created by House of Concrete, Blackpool for Counselling in the Community
Furniture created by House of Concrete, Blackpool for Counselling in the Community (Image: Counselling in the Community)

Stuart told LancsLive: “It’s been five years in the making and the application was a long and arduous process.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be an official charity now however and it does change a lot of things.

“It gives us a lot of kudos in terms of who will work with us and some places will only work with you once you have that registered status as you’ve been through the vetting process. ”

“I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported and our fantastic volunteers.”

The now official charity always needs funds however as the demands on its services grows and grows which means it has to adapt constantly.

Many people who have benefited from the service have volunteered to try and raise as much money as they can to help keep it going.

Liam James in his Counselling in the Community hoodie
Liam James in his Counselling in the Community hoodie (Image: Go Fund Me)

This includes Blackpool resident Liam James who is partaking in a mammoth cycling challenge next month on a circular route around 400 miles from Blackpool to Bedford.

This will be done in three stages from Blackpool to Halifax, Halifax to Bedford then Bedford to Blackpool.

This will be one of the biggest mental and physical challenges Liam has ever done however he is determined to raise money for a course very close to his heart.

Stuart added: “Both Liam and his fiancé have accessed our services as often when a couple contact us we check to see if their partner is ok too.

“Generally there is still a stigma around men and mental health and it often females who are willing to engage with us before males.

“That’s why we always make sure to go back to females and ask ‘How are you?’ as supporting someone with mental health issues can be very challenging.

“We’re very grateful to Liam for what’s he doing as we’re always in need of financial help. We rely on donations, even more so now as up to 60% of referrals are from NHS Pathways and some people can have quite complex needs.

“We haven’t always got counsellors available who are qualified to deal with particular needs. Say if a female needs help from a female counsellor between 9am and 11am on a particular day to talk through particular issues it may be hard to get one there and then.

“This is why although the wait list is around two to four weeks, it can longer for other depending on when we can get people in.

“Currently, our waitlist has gone down from 100 to 60 people however a way to get this down faster would be to be able to pay staff, so this is why we need to try and get as much money as possible when we can.”

To donate to Liam’s mammoth bike challenge, please visit here.