Our History

WYC was founded in 2002 by Jill Guppy, who saw the huge levels of need for mental health support for young people and realised that the six sessions offered by statutory services were often insufficient.

Jill’s vision was for young people to be able to benefit from longer-term counselling and support for as long as they needed it. Her passion for this work means that she is still involved in the charity, now as the Clinical Lead. In 2021, we registered as a CIO and appointed our first CEO, Erin Tollefsen.  Erin is currently on maternity leave and Jules Gillard has taken up the role of Interim CEO.

We are proud of our history

For two decades, Winchester Youth Counselling (WYC) has been a beacon of hope for young people navigating the complexities of mental health and wellbeing.

Our unwavering commitment to open-ended, free counselling has touched the lives of over 3,000 children and young people in the Winchester District.

Our History (2)

But WYC’s impact extends far beyond individual sessions.

  1. Building a Legacy of Support:

Imagine a safe space where young people can express their anxieties, fears, and hopes without judgment. This is the reality WYC creates every day. By providing free, open-ended counselling and therapy, we empower young people to find their own path to emotional well-being.

  1. Nature’s Healing Embrace:

Recognising the restorative power of nature, WYC has pioneered an innovative outdoor therapies programme. Picture tranquil walks in the woods and the quiet hum of wildlife as a backdrop for therapeutic conversations.

In 2022 alone, WYC delivered 48 group sessions and over 230 hours of 1:1 walk and talk therapy, all under the watchful guidance of wildlife icon Chris Packham CBE, their esteemed Patron.

  1. A Symphony of Support:

Financial stability is crucial for sustainable impact. Over the past five years (2017-2021), WYC has more than doubled its income through diverse fundraising initiatives. This financial strength allows us to grow and work towards long-term goals, ensuring a future where every young person in Winchester has access to the mental health support they need.

  1. Amplifying Young Voices:

WYC understands that the best solutions come from lived experiences. That’s why we established the Youth Advisory Board in September 2022. This diverse group of young people, many of whom have grappled with mental health challenges themselves, provide invaluable insights that shape every aspect of WYC’s work. From programme development to service delivery, their perspectives ensure that WYC remains relevant and impactful, especially for under-represented groups.

Winchester Youth Counselling is more than just a service; it’s a community of care, compassion, and empowerment. Our 20-year journey is a testament to the transformative power of support, and their future, fuelled by a diverse range of achievements, promises a brighter tomorrow for young minds in Winchester.