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Case Study – Changing Minds with Pick Up a Penny

Sara wanted to change government policy on early intervention for the mental health of children but it was a struggle to be heard.

It was suggested that if she was going to make any kind of noise amongst the policymakers, she would need more clout, and specifically some letters before her name, so Sara set out to earn a PhD.

Sara Young trained as a Psychotherapist at the Northern Guild of Psychotherapy with a specialism in working with children and young people.

As she searched for inspiration to make changes to the sector, it was Sara’s father who sparked an idea. Whilst walking to boost his cancer recovery, her dad had a habit of picking up pennies. By the end of the year he had collected over 3000 pennies which he donated to Cancer Research UK. Once he had recovered, he kept going and donated £30-40 each year.

Sara loved that idea. She worked out that if everyone picked up the pennies, it could make a real difference. She decided to take it on as part of her brand, and so Changing Minds with Pick Up a Penny was born.

Sara had little knowledge of starting or growing a business but knew she wanted to set up the first centre in the North East providing trauma treatment, therapy and research. The next challenge was to raise the funds to make those much-needed therapies available.

A train of events led Sara to attend a social media workshop delivered by The Business Factory, North Tyneside’s business support organisation. At that session, the tutor told Sara she could access specific support to help her to take her idea forward and soon after she was introduced to Social Enterprise Business Advisor Toni Clark. Almost immediately, Sara knew she had made the right decision.

“Toni’s advice has been invaluable, I didn’t even know what a CIC (Community Interest Company) was before I met Toni, never mind the benefits of setting my business up as one.

I had a huge idea, and I wanted to run with it, but Toni kept me grounded, she kept me on track and she helped me set up as a CIC. Toni knows her stuff, she’s not about ticking boxes or paying lip service, she’s about taking action, the right action.

And she’s stayed in touch, always there whenever I need her, it really shines through how much she loves to help.

Indeed, it’s hard to put into words how much her help and that of The Business Factory have helped me grow my business, it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without Toni!”

Sara knew from the start the demand was there. Yes, she had a big job ahead of her, getting her company noticed, but she knew the bigger problem would be finding other therapists to work alongside her.

Sara has very high standards in terms of delivering quality care and support, but there is no regulation in the therapy industry and anyone can promote themselves as a therapist without any real depth of knowledge.

Of course, there’s more to giving therapy than understanding the theory, personality is also key, but you need that foundation on which to build. So Toni helped Sara with a number of successful funding bids which allowed her to invest in training for her staff.

Sara works with a wide range of issues including brain trauma, cognitive decline, speech and language therapy (for example post-stroke), and global development delay.

But what really makes Sara stand out are the techniques she and her team use. One such technique is Neurofeedback, which allows them to work on the brain as opposed to the mind.

Techniques that actually get results!

An all too often side effect of medication is that it can leave the patient feeling numb. One young client felt so much more alive when he was not on his medication, but he couldn’t simply stop taking them. However, working with Sara has enabled him to significantly reduce his medication and with further work, may well be able to get off them completely.

Indeed, Sara’s work doesn’t simply reduce the symptoms, it focuses on the root of the problem.

Another client of Sara’s, a 3 and a 1/2-year-old girl, had suffered from trauma since birth. Sara used Neurofeedback to identify the problem (an absence of the Sensorimotor rhythm in the brain) and 15 sessions later, she is now able to live a much more stable life.

Sara also worked with a young man who despite two years of counselling was no better, and had attempted suicide. Within five minutes of working with Sara, he was shocked as to how much she understood his issues and started to really open up, enabling Sara to work her magic and he is now employed, learning to drive, and living life… an inspiration for others.

Neurofeedback markers can even give an indicator of food deficiencies, indeed one subject Sara worked with was simply deficient in vitamin B12, so taking a supplement actually helped sort out their anxiety.

“There is no one size fits all, we take a holistic approach, working from the top down. Not simply papering over the cracks, we deliver solutions, often working with people who have been written off by the system.

We also work to support other counsellors and therapists in the region; helping them with trauma training, with the attachment training. I want to inspire them to do more.”

Back in 2018, there was just Sara, and she spent 2019 building the team, adding three further therapists and two technicians. Now Sara is looking for at least two more therapists and another technician.

The future is bright!

Find out more about the great work Sarah is doing on her website.

If You Feel Inspired…

…give us a call on 0191 605 3110 or drop us an email on

Alternatively you can join our introduction to self-employment workshop. See our available online workshops here.

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