to find out more about The Promise in Aberdeen, contact

Gette Cobban

Senior Development Officer (The Promise)


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Mar 12, 2024

Place2Be: Keeping The Promise through in-school mental health support

Place2Be is a children and young people’s mental health charity with almost 30 years’ experience working with pupils, families and staff in schools across the UK.

Their main ethos is providing a safe, creative space within schools for children to openly talk about their emotions or any difficulties they may be facing.

The charity provides an extensive array of mental health services, including one-to-one counselling for children aged over 4 and support programmes for parents and teachers. Place2Be currently works in over 60 primary and secondary schools in Scotland, reaching 56,000 children and young people with their services.

Liam Furby, Senior Influencing and Partnerships Manager, and Sophia Sives, Area Manager of North Scotland, shine a light on Place2Be’s services in Aberdeen and Scotland as a whole. They share the impact of the charity’s support amongst families, and how their work fulfils The Promise, Scotland’s guarantee to ensure all children grow up safe, loved and respected.

“Place2Be provides a safe, creative space within schools for children and young people to ensure that mental health issues do not grow with them,” says Liam.

“The essence of what we do is providing a dedicated person for children and young people to open up to. This person is embedded in the space and becomes part of the school community which is really important to ensure consistency and familiarity for the child.

“A high proportion of the young people we work with are care experienced. In more recent years, we have been working on specific projects around supporting care experienced children, young people and their families in line with The Promise’s framework.”

One project that Place2Be delivers is their Parenting Smart programme, available to parents and carers with children who attend a school that Place2Be supports. With funding through the STV Appeal, these free online courses offer extra tools to deal with everyday parenting challenges, helping strengthen relationships between the child and their parent or carer.

As part of Place2Be’s work with The Promise, Liam explains the importance of extending this programme to specific groups who deal with children and young people to include as many parents and carers as possible.

“We realised that foster carers were a group that needed a more bespoke course. With this in mind, we developed a tailored Parenting Smart online course that is delivered to foster carers across Scotland.

“Working in partnership with The Fostering Network, we have been able to reach and support foster carers of primary-aged children across Scotland. By giving them extra tools to strengthen their relationship with the children in their care, this has been a real success. The foster carers we have supported have become more confident with their care which has been great to see.

“In future, we plan to expand our Parenting Smart programme to focus on kinship carers, furthering our fulfilment of The Promise by supporting those with a strong presence in a child or young person’s life.”

Place2Be is the ideal service for our school community due to the holistic nature of the provision. No other service provides support for the young person, their family and our staff.”

Secondary school Headteacher

In Aberdeen, Place2Be has been delivering one particular mental health support service to a third of the city’s primary schools. Now almost a year into the project, Sophia discusses the intervention programme.

“We currently support 16 primary schools across Aberdeen, with ambitions to further Place2Be’s reach as we head into year two and three of the project,” says Sophia.

“The project is all about communication, relationships and our staff member getting to know the school community through a 10-session model. This includes the parent body, the teaching staff and everyone else who is involved in the child’s life.

Sophia describes the importance of ensuring the programme is the best option for the child through a formulation period prior to the intervention.

“Our robust assessment ensures we are the right people for that child, that it is the right intervention for them and, crucially, at the right time.

“As part of this, we speak to the child or young person as well as their parent or carer. We will also speak to the school staff such as the teachers or anyone else who has regular contact with the child or young person.

“This is undertaken so we can get an overall picture of where that child is, where their difficulties lie and where their strengths lie, so we can make a really informed, clinical choice if a proper intervention is the right thing for the child at this time.

“Following our 10 sessions, we get a holistic view of where the child is through our evaluation tools. It is really rewarding for us as we are now beginning to see the schools benefitting from the project as well as the child’s mental health improving.”

Furthermore from Place2Be’s child-centred support, Liam expands on how the charity helps schools keep The Promise by targeting the child’s wider network.

“One of the big pillars of The Promise is delivering whole family support,” says Liam.

“At Place2Be, we have always included parents within our conversations about how we can support their child. They are involved at the early stages of making sure that they get the right support they need.

“The Promise is about changing the whole system, so we want that support to be available to as many parents as possible.”

“Place2Be helps in lots of different ways,” Sophia adds, detailing Aberdeen’s dedicated family practitioner for schools.

“Our family practitioner delivers Personalised Individual Parenting Training (PIPT). This is an eight-week intervention programme for families where a breakdown in communication has happened between the parent and child.

“The programme provides basic building blocks of good parenting tailored to the child. It is a very rewarding training programme where the feedback has been extremely positive from schools. They value having somebody that can work with both the parent and the child, and really appreciate the engaging nature of the programme for parents.

“Our one-to-one counselling is very much child-centred, whereas PIPT fosters a joint enterprise between the child and parent, making it a more inclusive approach to improving mental health.”

In addition to supporting the family as a whole, another group that Place2Be upholds is the school workforce. The charity strongly believes the importance of supporting staff due to their significant and influential involvement in a child’s life.

“One main foundation of The Promise is making sure the scaffolding around the child is as strong as possible,” Liam explains.

“Place2Think is another programme we offer in schools, both in Aberdeen and across the country, that focuses on upholding the workforce. This is an offer of support to all teaching staff to help them reflect on their own practice and to come up with solutions to improve their work around mental health.

“The teachers really benefit from having this space. They are given the opportunity to reflect, think differently about how they work and how they can improve things for the child and their mental health.”

Liam continues to discuss tailored support for senior members of staff, such as head teachers, principal teachers and heads of guidance: “Our Senior Mental Health Leads programme aims to support those with an overarching remit for mental health and has the ability to develop a strategy for the whole school.

“We tend to find that schools have a lot of different supports coming in which can sometimes overlap, making it hard to manage all at once. The Senior Mental Health Leads programme helps them bring together this into one cohesive strategy.

“This is made possible by training the senior staff about children’s mental health and around leadership. We then have consultations with the school staff which results in one clear strategy being developed with the aim of helping support pupil’s mental health.”

“Our primary focus at Place2Be, and with the ethos of The Promise, is that we are supporting the whole school community.”

Liam Furby, Senior Influencing and Partnerships Manager at Place2Be

Place2Be’s emphasis on supporting those around the child enables a more joined up approach and is often able to identify areas that perhaps haven’t always had a light shone on them.

Sophia continued: “Our service is helping schools keep The Promise to care experienced children and young people every day through strengthening their ability to provide universal, holistic, mental health and family support.

“Last term alone across our 16 schools in Aberdeen 49 Place2Think sessions were held with school staff. These ranged from conversations about understanding behaviour and offering clinical guidance, to supporting the challenge of working within the busy school environment and meeting the demands of the role which can at times be overwhelming.

“So the children don’t just benefit directly, but indirectly by giving all those around them that have a part to play in their life the same support to create an integrated safe and respectful environment.”

“Our primary focus at Place2Be, and with the ethos of The Promise, is that we are supporting the whole school community,” Liam says.

“It’s not about focusing on just the children – it’s about supporting everyone that works with those children. Place2Be is committed in delivering our comprehensive support services, in line with The Promise, to ensure children and young people’s mental health issues do not grow with them.

“We are excited to see what the future brings as we look to extend more of our services to Aberdeen, continuing our support for children, young people, their families and the school community as a whole.”

To find out more about Place2Be, visit their website at or get in touch by emailing or phoning 020 7923 5500.

To find out more about The Promise in Aberdeen, visit ACVO’s dedicated webpage at

This article originally appeared in the March edition of ACVO News, you can read the magazine and subscribe below. All past editions are available to read at

to find out more about The Promise in Aberdeen, contact

Gette Cobban

Senior Development Officer (The Promise)


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