Hundreds of children with mental or emotional health issues will receive the therapy they need, thanks to a £15,000 grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons to the charity Blue Smile
Blue Smile works with children between 3 and 13 years old, who may experience difficulties such as anxiety, self-harm or obsessive-compulsive behaviours. They are given a weekly session with an expert therapist, based on arts and play, providing support for each child for as long as they need it. During term time, Blue Smile helps around 200 children every week.
In Cambridgeshire, roughly one in eight children have a diagnosable mental health condition, which equates to each class in a Cambridgeshire school having three affected children. The county has an estimated 13,900 children and young people under the age of 16 with mental health issues, which is the highest in the East of England and a higher percentage than England as a whole, which has 400,000 under 16s who were referred to the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the last year.
Blue Smile aims to intervene when a child has emerging mental health difficulties, particularly those who have suffered trauma such as abuse, bereavement or domestic violence. Through this, they aim to prevent problems worsening and protect each child's ability to stay in school and participate fully in school life. Half of all lifetime mental health problems emerge by the age of 14, so by supporting children who are experiencing difficulties, the charity believes that it can give them the best possible chance of recovery.
The grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Jess Manley, Charity Director of Blue Smile, said: 'We're very grateful to Cambridgeshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us to offer support to hundreds of children every week during term time. Often people don't realise the scale of this issue, with, on average, three children in every class being affected by mental health difficulties.'
Pat Kilby, from Cambridgeshire Freemasons, said: 'I'm very pleased we've been able to help Blue Smile with their hugely important work. By getting to children early on, they can give them the support they need to prevent problems worsening, and protect each child's ability to stay in school and participate fully in school life.
'Their work is quite literally life-changing.'