"Blue Smile is dedicated to giving vulnerable children excellent mental health support at the earliest possible opportunity. Our commitment to excellence, partnered with the care and generosity of those who volunteer, fundraise and donate means we can transform the life chances of children across Cambridgeshire. I am proud to be a part of this amazing charity. "
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 1,200 children to be happier and feel better.
Our mission statement
Blue Smile is a charity dedicated to transforming the mental health and life chances of children across Cambridgeshire.
We are dedicated to:
- heartfelt care and professional excellence
- every child deserves the time and space to be heard
- every child deserves the chance to be mentally and emotionally healthy
To advance our mission, we:
- put children at the centre of what we do
- provide expert, one-to-one, art-based therapy tailored to each child’s needs
- invest in families and whole school communities
- help develop a highly skilled mental healath workforce across the county
Half of all lifetime mental health problems emerge by the age of 14. We know that early intervention and expert support can prevent problems worsening and give children the best possible chance of recovery at a young age, freeing them to enjoy life. Sometimes Blue Smile is called upon to help a child at crisis point, but our aim is to intervene early because when a child is struggling with difficult emotions such as grief, anger, worry or shame, they are not free to play, grow and learn. Our highly skilled therapists also work with parents, carers and school staff to ensure each child is heard, understood and helped towards a brighter future. Our support gives children their childhood back.
Today, nearly four children in every UK class has a mental health problem
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 for 2019-2021 to learn how we will build and develop Blue Smile to achieve this.
PATRON – Autism Researcher
Sir 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.
Sir Simon Baron-Cohen was knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours on 2021.
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.
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.
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.
CHAIR OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES – Director, Ministry of Justice
Naomi is a Director in the Goverment Legal Department, heading up a legal team advising the Ministry of Justice. She is the Government Legal Department’s Race Champion and a Mental Health First Aider for the Department.
Naomi has been involved with Blue Smile since 2012 as Chair of its Clinical and Ethics Group and became chair of the Board of Trustees in 2018.
Naomi brings experience of social policy issues from a public sector perspective having previously worked for the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions. She has previously been a trustee of a mental health charity supporting women who have experienced domestic abuse and has also been a school governor.
Naomi lives in Cambridge with her husband Marcus. They have two grown up sons
TRUSTEE – Retired Commercial Director
Penny became a Trustee in January 2016. She has 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Charity 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 stepping into the position of Clinical Director and more recently Charity 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.
TRUSTEE – Head of Registration – Eastern, Public Health England
Sarah became a trustee of Blue Smile in January 2020. She has a Masters of Public Health and is currently the Head of Registration for the National Cancer Registration Service in the East of England. This strategic leadership role allows her to use change management skills and develop processes to improve efficiency and quality of the collection of this population level data. This role builds on a number of roles within the health sector, including operational roles at Addenbrooke’s hospital and more recently a role to supporting the NHS to implement innovation and digital technology.
Sarah has worked with stakeholders across the East of England on a range of mental health projects which she supported throughout set up, and designed an evaluation to measure their impact. It sparked her desire to support mental health work in a voluntary capacity, particularly provision of these services in an appropriate way at a young age.
Sarah brings her knowledge and experience of innovation and digital technology, an understanding of the local health system and how to evaluate health interventions.
TRUSTEE – Research and Implementation Nurse Lead CAHMS South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Carrie-Ann is a senior mental health nurse at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM). She works as part of the leadership team in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, (CAMHS) as the Research and Implementation Nurse lead, supporting the implementation of CAMHS quality priorities. Carrie-Ann has worked with children and families for 10 years, initially as a clinician, then supervising practitioners including school nurses and latterly in strategic roles. She has worked extensively in early intervention, seeing the vital contribution it makes to minimising the negative impacts of adversity and trauma.
Carrie-Ann has experience of developing safeguarding strategies with her NHS role and is a strong advocate of the ‘Think Family’ approach to safeguarding. She successfully redesigned and implemented a trust wide staff training and development programme which encompassed level 3 safeguarding children training, specifically for practitioners working in adult mental health services with parents and families.
She is one of 64 nursing selected for a Department of Health Education England initiative to support national research capacity and capability building in nursing. She is passionate about championing research related to children and young people’s wellbeing.
Carrie-Ann is also a part time PhD student with the Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London. Her PhD focuses on advancing our understanding of how we can ensure effective sustainable change when implementing and embedding interventions into real world setting.