Interview - Benita Refson, Chief executive of Place2Be

Friday, May 3, 2013

Place2Be is a national children's charity that provides school-based emotional and mental health support services.

The Duchess of Cambridge has recently become a patron of the charity. How does it feel to have such an honour bestowed on Place2Be?

We are delighted that the Duchess of Cambridge has chosen to become the patron of Place2Be. The Duchess's appointment has helped shine a spotlight on the importance of children's mental health and well-being, and intervening early on.

How many children has Place2Be helped and supported since it began?

The charity has been running for the past 19 years and it would be very difficult to determine how many children we have helped during that time.

However, in the last academic year 2011/12 we worked in 161 schools, 154 of which were primary schools, with approximately 25,000 children coming into contact with Place2Be.By September, we aim to be working in 200 schools across the country.

Can you describe what services the charity offers?

Place2Be works in schools providing early intervention mental health support, without stigmatising children, young people or families. Everything we do is based on pilots, research and evaluations.

Once a child is referred to us by a parent, carer or teacher we determine whether they would benefit from one-to-one weekly counselling sessions. For younger children, this involves therapeutic approaches that encourage the child to express themselves in non-verbal ways,such as artwork and play.

We provide short-term group work on particular issues like transition, bereavement, friendship or self-esteem and also work with parents and carers in schools and run parenting groups in both schools and children's centres.

Place2Be has been awarded a grant of £1.2m to extend services to more primary schools in Glasgow. What impact will this have?

Following on from the positive impact of Place2Be's pilot in two Easterhouse primary schools, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council awarded us £1.2m over three years to deliver counselling and therapeutic support to fiveto 11-year-olds. The grant will enable us to roll out the early intervention service to 15 primary schools across Glasgow, supporting up to 4,000 children.

This partnership will see Place2Be further build on the success of our evidence-based and cost-effective model to help even more children in Glasgow to achieve their potential and face brighter futures.

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