Joining Refuge and the Prince’s Trust, we are delighted that the wonderful Place2Be are the latest to join our charity family, Chrissie’s White Heart Foundation. Committed to helping vulnerable women and children build a brighter future, the White Heart Foundation aims to fund 840 children through Place2Be’s programme.
We caught up with the charity’s CEO, Catherine Roche, to discover more about Place2Be’s unique approach to education and their huge successes in helping children through unimaginably difficult experiences.
A drawing by one of Place2Be’s students, demonstrating a school counselling session.
Can you explain what Place2Be does?
Place2Be is a national charity which provides support for children’s emotional wellbeing and mental health in schools, and is a leading provider of training in children’s counselling. Working in 257 schools in the UK, our counsellors help children to deal with whatever is troubling them, as well as supporting parents, carers, and teachers to manage emotional and behavioural issues.
What are some of the different issues you tackle in schools, and what makes Place2Be’s approach to dealing with them so unique?
If children are living with domestic violence or substance abuse at home, or bereavement, family breakdown or bullying, their mental and physical wellbeing can suffer, resulting in disruptive behaviour. We can help them to explore their feelings and communicate with a person they can trust, so they can go back to the classroom ready to learn.
Each Place2Be school has its own project manager, who understands the best support to provide. This can range from drop-in sessions to one-to-one counselling for children with a greater level of need. The one-to-one sessions take place in a special Place2Be room, where children can express their feelings to a trained counsellor through play and art therapy.
Place2Be offer one-to-one counselling session for children in need of support across the UK.
Can you tell us about some of the biggest success stories from the children and young people Place2Be has helped?
There are so many, but for me, it’s the things children say that really touch me. Comments like, “Before I went to Place2Be my heart felt like lead, now my heart feels like gold”, and, “Life can be complicated, that’s why you need Place2Be”, make me proud of our fantastic work.
It all comes down to how we can help change children’s lives for the better. One such child was nine-year-old Tom, who was angry and disruptive in class, and kept trying to run away. When he went to climb out of the first-floor window to escape, his teacher referred him to Place2Be.
His counsellor discovered that Tom’s mum had serious health problems, so he kept wanting to run away from school because he needed to check she was all right. In the Place2Be room, Tom learned how to control his anger and reduce his anxiety; we also arranged support for his mum. Now 17 and studying performing arts, Tom says that “without Place2Be, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
What has Place2be achieved that you are most proud of?
When I first got involved 19 years ago, we were working in just six schools in London. Now, Place2Be is in 257 schools all over the UK, giving 105,000 children access to our services, and provides training for thousands of people each year.
It’s equally important to know that what we are doing really works. We assess this through our own evaluation and by listening to feedback from schools and families – parents tell us that 80% of children improve after Place2Be counselling.
I’m also proud of the work we’ve done to support the need for children’s mental health support in schools. We were delighted to launch our second Children’s Mental Health Week earlier this year with a special message of support from our Royal Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge, talking to children about the importance of being able to express their feelings openly (https://www.place2be.org.uk/our-story/childrens-mental-health-week/).
Place2Be students are encouraged to explore their feelings and emotions through art and expressive play.
The White Heart Foundation’s goal is to fund 840 children through the Place2Be programme. How can The White Company’s customers support Place2Be, get involved, or find out more?
We’d love to have The White Company’s customers supporting Place2Be and helping us spread the word about our work and the importance of children’s mental health. We have lots of materials on how to build children’s resilience and cope with whatever life may throw at them. Click here for more information:
Alternatively, we’re always on the lookout for runners and cyclists to join in a sporting challenge, host a Place2Be dinner party or come to our annual carol service! If you’d like to find out more, please visit:
Lastly, if you’re thinking about becoming a counsellor or would like to understand more about children’s mental health and wellbeing, we’d love to welcome you at one of our training courses. Find out more here:
Committed to helping vulnerable women and children build a brighter future, the White Heart Foundation receives 10% of all sales from a hand-picked selection of our beautiful products – just look out for the special silver heart logo. To find out more about Chrissie’s White Heart Foundation, click here.