About Us2020-11-18T14:23:50+00:00

About Cogwheel Counselling

“The whole process of the meetings I have helped me so much to get back on track. I now deal better with my thoughts and actions and my life is getting better because of Cogwheel.”

Cogwheel Counselling, is a Cambridgeshire-based charity, formed in 1988 as The Cogwheel Trust, which works to improve the emotional and mental wellbeing of local people. Cogwheel endeavours to carry out its mission by:

  • Providing a range of counselling services for all ages (in-person and online) including providing services which are affordable to those on low and limited incomes.
  • Promoting emotional and mental wellbeing.
  • Ensuring the charity provides the highest quality of service through its accreditation with BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).
  • Improving access to counselling services for employers wanting to provide confidential counselling for their employees, through a ‘trusted’ provider.

Cogwheel has helped many thousands of people of all ages over the last three decades. As we enter a new post-Covid time we are determined to continue our core mission to provide affordable counselling and work hard to ensure the long-term sustainability of the charity.

Affordable counselling is provided to couples, families and individuals of all ages: children, teenagers, young adults, adults and the elderly. Some people come in great distress, but some seek help with emotional difficulties or want help to change their patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful. Early counselling intervention is an effective solution and prevents more complex health and social needs from developing.

Please note, The Cogwheel Trust is not a crisis service.  If you are experiencing a mental health crisis  call 111 option 2 or  (by calling 111 and selecting option 2 when prompted for the mental health service). You can access 111 online via www.111.nhs.uk (this service is for people aged 5 and over) or by calling 111. You can also contact the Samaritans at 116-123. You can find information on other support agencies in Cambridge here.

Cogwheel Counselling affirms the value of every person: all people connected with our charity are valued for who they are and encouraged, supported and challenged to become what they can be.

Cogwheel Counselling encourages personal development and positive change: we start with the belief that each person is unique and deserves to be respected and genuinely cared for as they are; and as someone who has a future to be discovered and developed.

Cogwheel Counselling values participation: all people have a valuable contribution to make in shaping services, helping others, building relationships and strengthening communities. We work with the community, not just for the community, and we seek opportunities for all people to participate in our mission.

Cogwheel plays an important part in the provision of mental health support in the charitable sector in Cambridge and in the county. The charity operates from its main centre in leased premises in Norfolk Street in Cambridge and has two satellite locations in Sawston and Ely.

In 2019 Cogwheel was contacted by over 600 people and provided 4782 affordable assessments and sessions for adults who would be economically excluded from accessing private counselling, which can cost upwards of £50/60 a session. Nearly half of Cogwheel’s clients pay the minimum contribution which is now £15 per session. In addition, Cogwheel provided nearly 100 children and family sessions which were much valued.

Counselling at Cogwheel can make a dramatic difference to people’s wellbeing. From client feedback in 2019 at the start of counselling 46% of people were severely or moderately severely distressed while by the end of their counselling only 12% of people were in these categories.

Find out more about Cogwheel in 2019 here (Cogwheel Annual Statistics 2019- pdf file)

Counselling sessions are provided by a team of about 40 counsellors who are either fully qualified or in the very final stages of their training and are managed by the Cogwheel’s Head of Counselling.

The Charity celebrated its 30th anniversary in the summer of 2018 and just over 18 months later, in March 2020, had to transform its operation on the introduction of the Covid-19 lockdown. Overnight in-person counselling stopped and had to be replaced by online counselling on zoom. It was only through the hard work and dedication of the whole Cogwheel team that the transition could be completed in just over two weeks.

Cogwheel, which receives no NHS funding, faces a challenging future to remain viable as income from client session contributions only accounts for about 60% of the total running costs of £200k.The remainder has to be funded from grants, donations and community fundraising.

The Cogwheel founder Jenny Joice, was a practising Christian with a turbulent personal history. This inspired her to collaborate with others to open up a counselling centre that would be readily accessible to everyone. Cogwheel was founded in 1988 through her vision and determination to care for the counselling needs of the whole community. Cogwheel’s counselling service was initially provided on a voluntary basis from premises at St Andrews Street Baptist Church. From the outset, Jenny was adamant that the counselling should not be confined by the limitations of the training and practices of the prevailing Christian counselling courses.

Today, Cogwheel continues to provide affordable counselling to those who most need it, and our founding Christian ethos which includes compassion, respect, listening and healing – still provides a motivation for many within the Charity. Cogwheel provides a service that is open to all, staffed by counsellors from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, all of whom have undertaken rigorous professional training on accredited secular courses. The organisation seeks to provide a unique and effective therapeutic service available to everyone irrespective of their financial circumstances and personal beliefs.

Origins of the name “Cogwheel”

Jenny Joice explained the origin of the name Cog-Wheel:

‘My father held a keen interest in both water and windmills. Even as a child, the cog-wheel mechanisms seemed to embody a deep significance of human relationships. It was whilst contemplating the gear mechanisms on a visit to Quy and Houghton Water Mills that Cogwheel Counselling  got its name. The consequences of effective connection and equally of misalignment or break-down affects the whole working machinery of family life and ultimately productivity and well-being.’


Cogwheel is fortunate to have a team of around 40 dedicated part time counsellors. Many of our counsellors are volunteers who usually commit to working for the organisation for at least two years or more. Our counsellors are professionally trained or in the final stages of their qualification and are able offer a variety of counselling approaches, from psychodynamic to person centred to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Many of them are accredited or working towards accreditation with the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and/or the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy).

All counsellors are supported in their clinical work by a team of qualified and experienced supervisors and by the Cogwheel’s Head of Counselling, Esther McNeill, who ensure that the counselling is ethical and professional, and in keeping with BACP guidelines.

Find out more about our counselling services here.

Support team

Cogwheel Counselling has a small team who all work part-time and provide the essential support without which the work of the charity could not take place. Our administrative team of two receive client referrals and attend to the counselling admin. There is a Finance Officer, a Business Support Manager, IT support, a Fundraiser and a Communications officer who all bring their expertise and commitment to the benefit of the organisation.

Charity Trustees

The Cogwheel Trust’s 30th Anniversary

Cogwheel Counselling’s dedicated team of Trustees is headed by Lis Silver. She is supported by Jeremy Barnet, David Farrer, Nigel Walter and Christopher Palmer.


Charity Patrons

Our Patrons are the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College until October 2020.

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