Cambridgeshire companies pitching in to help local children

December 2, 2020

Cambridgeshire children’s mental health charity, Blue Smile, has received new support from the business community in the face of Coronavirus. Blue Smile usually provides expert one to one therapy in schools, for children aged 3-13 years. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption to the charity’s services.

“When lockdown 1 happened”, explained Charity Director Jess Manley, “the schools closed and suddenly children’s courses of therapy were cut short.

“It takes time to build a relationship of trust with a child who has mental health or emotional problems, so it was very important that we could continue to support these children.”

Thanks to support from local community groups, trusts, and companies the charity was able to quickly develop new remote services to support children and families by phone and online. These services were so successful, and the feedback so positive, that since September 2020, the charity has continued to offer remote support alongside face to face work in schools.

Cambridge Assessment has been a key supporter of Blue Smile’s work during this time of crisis. Since early 2020 the Cambridge-based company has supported three charities including Blue Smile. This partnership has helped to fund the new support services for children, developed since March.

Blue Smile also benefitted from the support of Arm Cambridge Community Fund and Cheffins Community Fund, through the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation. This support has helped to fund the core work of the charity, helping children with difficulties such as severe anxiety, impacts of trauma, self-harm, and bereavement.

Recently, another company with local offices provided very practical support to Blue Smile. Art kits are an essential part of the therapy that the charity provides to children who are struggling with their mental health. In order for children to play safely with their therapist in their face to face therapy sessions, they can no longer share the materials. Each child must now have their own kit to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus. Not only has this meant purchasing new art materials and toys, but it has also meant finding 200 boxes so that each child has a box of their own.

The charity turned to packaging company DS Smith, and was bowled over by the response when they asked for help. Within days, 200 flat-packed boxes of exactly the right size arrived at Jess’s door. The boxes are now full of the paints, paper, puppets and playdoh (and more) that help children express difficult feelings and emotions in a safe, supported way.

Jess Manley is delighted by the support the small charity has received. “We have all faced a very challenging period during 2020,” said Jess.

“However, it has been fantastic to see how local companies have pulled together with charities like Blue Smile to help those most badly affected by the pandemic.

“We are very grateful indeed!”