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About us2019-08-06T10:14:12+00:00

How we work

Blue Smile provides a “whole school” approach for mental wellbeing, with both its extensive Menu of Services aimed at teachers, heads and groups of school staff, and one-to-one counselling and therapy for children aged three to 13. For children, we work using proven fun, arts-based therapies which engage the child in a non-threatening way, helping them to organise their feelings and process traumatic experiences. So far, our highly skilled therapists and mentors have helped over 1,000 children to be happier and feel better.

Our strategy

Today, nearly four children in every UK class has a mental health problem

If children don’t get proper support early on, the repercussions can be enormous, with social issues, lower attainment and increased risk of mental illness in adulthood. Early help is a fraction of the cost of the urgent and high-level interventions in mental health that might otherwise be needed later.

Mental health issues can happen to any child, but we know there is an additional risk for children from deprived backgrounds, who are four times more likely to suffer mental health difficulties and have poorer attainment, with correspondingly poor prospects in the future.

Blue Smile has a three-year strategy and a flexible Menu of Services that aims to help many more children, teachers, schools and families. Read our Strategy Leaflet to learn how we will build and develop Blue Smile to achieve this.

Our strategic plan

Menu of services

Our team

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen

PATRON – Autism Researcher

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is Director, Autism Research Centre (ARC) in Cambridge. He has a degree in Human Sciences from New College, Oxford, a PhD in Psychology from UCL, and an MPhil in Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, and he held lectureships in these departments. He is author of Mindblindness, The Essential Difference, Prenatal Testosterone in Mind, and Zero Degrees of Empathy. He has edited scholarly anthologies including Understanding Other Minds, Synaesthesia, and The Maladapted Mind. He has written books for parents and teachers including Autism and Asperger Syndrome: The Facts, and Teaching Children with Autism to Mindread. He has celebrated autism in An Exact Mind. He is author of the DVDs Mind Reading and The Transporters, to help children with autism learn emotion recognition, both nominated for BAFTA awards. He is author of >450 scientific articles. He has supervised 32 PhD students.

Amanda Langford

FOUNDER AND AMBASSADOR – Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist

Amanda is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist who helped found Blue Smile. She has worked extensively in Cambridgeshire schools, where headteachers have made her aware of the huge need for specialist pastoral in-school support. She set up Blue Smile to help fill this gap.

Early in her career, she was Head of a Youth Counselling service where she discovered the power of using the arts to communicate, express and transform distress for children and young people. Later experience included being a teacher at the Yehudi Menuhin School, a Child and Family Worker on Addenbrooke’s Children’s Oncology Ward, and the School Counsellor at Oundle School. She now works in private practice and remains with Blue Smile as an enthusiastic Ambassador.

She fully believes that when a child is struggling with early mental health problems, putting in the right kind of support improves their wellbeing and prospects dramatically.

Tim Bryson

FOUNDER AND AMBASSADOR – Healthcare Consultant

Tim is an independent healthcare consultant working on a variety of projects including the East of England Mental Health Clinical Network, the Health Foundation and with Social Finance on a range of children’s services projects. Tim has worked on projects with Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP), Camden & Islington NHS FT, and NHS London.

From 2002 to 2012 Tim was Executive Director of Nursing for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, leading on children’s services, learning disability services, healthcare governance and clinical risk. He was also the Trust’s lead for safeguarding children.

Tim has a Masters in Social Research and a Masters in Health & Social Care Management. He is also a qualified mental health nurse with a broad range of clinical and management experience.

Tim worked with Amanda Langford and a number of other colleagues to found Blue Smile because of his passion for providing quality services for children and young people that will enable them to overcome challenges and realise their full potential in life.

Dr Fiona Godlee

AMBASSADOR – Editor in Chief of The BMJ

Fiona Godlee has been Editor in Chief of The BMJ since 2005. She qualified as a doctor in 1985, trained as a general physician in Cambridge and London, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

She first joined The BMJ in 1990 and has written and lectured on a broad range of issues, including health and the environment, the ethics of academic publishing, evidence-based medicine, access to clinical trial data, research integrity, open access publishing, patient partnership, conflict of interest, and overdiagnosis and over treatment.
As Editorial Director for Medicine from 2000-2002, she helped to establish the open access publisher BioMedCentral. She is on the advisory or executive boards of Alltrials, the Peer Review Congress, the International Forum for Quality and Safety Healthcare, Evidence Live, Preventing Overdiagnosis, and the Climate and Health Council.

She was a Harkness Fellow (1994), President of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) (1998-2000), Chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (2003-5), and PPA Editor of the Year (2014).

She is co-editor of Peer Review in Health Sciences and a senior visiting fellow at the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge. She is an honorary professor at the Netherlands School for Primary Care Research (CaRe).

Fiona lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.

Naomi Mallick

CHAIR OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES – Director, Ministry of Justice

Naomi Mallick is a Director in the Government Legal Department, heading up the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Advisers team. She is a member of the Ministry’s Executive Committee and of the Government Legal Department’s Strategic Leadership Team. She is also the Government Legal Department’s Race Champion as well as one of its trained Mental Health First Aiders.

Naomi has been Chair of Blue Smile’s Clinical and Ethics Advisory Group (previously called the Professional Advisory Group) since 2012, working with the former chair Tim Bryson and Clinical Director Amanda Langford as well as with other trustees and experts.

Naomi brings to Blue Smile experience of social policy issues from a public sector perspective, having previously worked for the Department of Health and for Department for Work and Pensions. She also brings experience of the voluntary and education sectors, having held roles in the past as a charity trustee for another mental health charity and as a school governor. Naomi is passionate about Blue Smile’s purpose and is looking forward to working with Rebecca Wood, the CEO, the trustee Board, and all of those who work with and support Blue Smile to help more children fulfil their potential and give them brighter futures.

Naomi lives in Cambridge with her husband Marcus, who is a fine artist and primary school teacher. They have two grown-up sons.

Graeme Menzies

DEPUTY CHAIR – Head of International Litigation and North America Desk, Mills & Reeve

Graeme is a former Senior Dispute Resolution Partner at national law firm Mills & Reeve, where he continues as a Consultant. He has over 30 years’ experience of advising boards and governors on risk management, governance and other legal issues. He has a strong interest in the firm’s healthcare, charity and education practices. Graeme is an accredited mediator, a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and leads the firms North America Desk.

Penny Dryden

TREASURER AND COMPANY SECRETARY – Former Commercial Director, Valassis Coupons and Vouchers

Penny became a Trustee in January 2016. She is a Commercial Director with a Masters in Business Administration and a long history of senior commercial appointments in large marketing services organisations.

Following the birth of her two children in the 1980s and with a strong desire to continue her burgeoning career, Penny set out to fill an important gap for good quality nursery day care close to where she lived at that time. She established a large private day nursery in Crawley, West Sussex, and experienced first-hand the importance of recognising and providing support to children who are experiencing difficulties.

As a mum, and now a grandmother, Penny brings her passion for being involved in such an important charity along with her commercial experience to the Blue Smile project.

Anne Kent-Taylor

TRUSTEE – Head of Operations, National Childbirth Trust

Anne became a trustee of Blue Smile in January 2016. Throughout her academic, professional and personal life, she has chosen to focus her career and interests on education, evidence, effectiveness and equality.

She began her career in science – as a postdoctoral research associate, working for the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust on the genetic basis of disease.

She later changed career direction and has worked in the charity sector for the past eight years. Anne is currently responsible for operational delivery of services for NCT – the UK’s largest charity for parents. Her remit extends across the charity’s work, both directly with parents, and where commissioned by the NHS and Local Authorities.

Anne believes that education is key to empowering individuals to make choices that are right for them, with the education of women particularly crucial in improving equality. With two primary aged children, she is passionate that the right support is put in place for all children to help them fulfil their true potential.

Kate Morris

TRUSTEE – Deputy Chief Executive, Youth Justice Board

Following a diverse career within the field of youth justice, Kate is currently Deputy Chief Executive at the Youth Justice Board: an arm’s length body which provides leadership to the youth justice system and has oversight of services to young people across England and Wales. Kate is Director of Operations, overseeing performance management of services direct to children in the justice system, and representing the interests of these children across Government. Kate leads on the management of national, strategic relationships with partners in youth justice delivery, including the police, NHS England and local authorities.

Prior to her current role, Kate was responsible for the Effective Practice arm of the Youth Justice Board, leading in the identification and dissemination of effective practice with children in the justice system.

In addition to her career in youth justice, Kate is passionate about contributing to her local community. She became a Trustee at Blue Smile after moving to Cambridge from London in 2013. Prior to this Kate was Chair of the Hounslow Youth Counselling Service in West London, a well-established and highly regarded charity, providing vital mental health support to children and young people across the borough.

Angela McKeown

TRUSTEE – Former Blue Smile Partner School Head teacher

Angela has worked in education for 38 years as a teacher, senior leader and Head teacher in schools in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Her 25 years’ experience of headship in Cambridgeshire included working at Shirley Community Primary School in Chesterton. This school serves a large, multi-ethnic and socially diverse community. It was recognised by the local authority and Ofsted, in successive inspections, as a school which provided a good quality education for all its children and particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

While at Shirley, Angela identified the need for specialist support for children’s mental health as a key priority in the school’s improvement agenda; this led to a partnership with Blue Smile which began in 2009. During this time, Angela has seen how the charity’s work has impacted positively on the lives of many children, helping to unlock barriers to learning and enabling them to achieve their potential.

Angela has experience of safeguarding, child protection and inter-agency working which were a daily feature of her working life. Since retiring from headship in 2018, Angela remains a fully committed supporter of the charity’s work.

Ellen Nowak

TRUSTEE – Freelance Arts Manager – Kettle’s Yard & University of Cambridge Museums

Ellen is a freelance Arts Manager whose clients include Kettle’s Yard and the University of Cambridge Museums. She graduated with an MA in English Literature and began her career as a children’s book editor.

After a day’s corporate volunteering at a drop-in centre in south London she decided to follow her heart into the charity sector and left publishing for a role at Kids Company, where she saw children’s lives dramatically transformed through the therapeutic use of the arts. She gained a postgraduate qualification in the Psychology of Education and spent the next decade working in education and charity settings, including as the Head of an award-winning volunteer programme at childhood-adversity charity Body & Soul. She joined Blue Smile as a member of the Strategic Advisory Group in 2014 and became a Trustee in 2018.

Rebecca Wood

CHIEF EXECUTIVE – Blue Smile

Rebecca Wood became Chief Executive Officer of Blue Smile in April 2015, following 17 years as Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK. Under her leadership there, ARUK funded over £53m of pioneering dementia research and there was a revolution in public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. From a tiny charity, she oversaw increases in year-on-year income and research investment for ARUK, transforming the organisation.

Rebecca came to Blue Smile because she felt mental health was in the same situation that had faced dementia: a lack of public understanding of the massive economic and human cost involved in the long term. With Blue Smile’s model of highly-skilled therapy for children, she could see the enormous proven change that could be made for children’s happiness and attainment, as well as the huge saving for society, if emotional issues were resolved early on in life.

Having an adopted child, she feels passionate about the difference that can be made to a child’s life with the right care and help and wants all children to have that. When someone understands how Blue Smile can help, they realise that their donation can transform a child’s life.

Jess Manley

CLINICAL DIRECTOR – Blue Smile

Jess Manley trained at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, has a Masters of Education degree in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling and has worked privately as an arts-based child and adolescent therapist.

She has been involved with Blue Smile since its infancy, initially as an arts-based therapist and then as a Team Leader in one of our Partner Schools. During her three years as a Team leader she also took on the role of Outreach Project Leader/Deputy Clinical Director for Blue Smile and developed the menu of services Blue Smile offers to schools before more recently stepping into the position of Clinical Director.

Having worked in education for over 10 years, Jess brings to Blue Smile extensive experience of school policies and procedures, and working within school settings. Other school based therapeutic experience includes running nurture groups and multi-systemic family therapy groups.

She also brings managerial experience having worked in local government, recruitment and private sector service industries.

Professionally and as a mother, Jess is very passionate about working with a charity that uses highly trained therapists, adheres to tight ethical guidelines and has, at its core, the desire to change children’s lives for the better.

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