Pears Foundation and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families unite to pioneer a new approach in children’s mental health

27th April 2016 By: Rose Palmer

undefinedPears Foundation and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families are embarking on a significant new partnership to radically transform the care of children and families dealing with mental health issues.

Pears Foundation has agreed a major £2.5m donation towards the development of a new centre of excellence in children’s mental health. The centre will be created on a site currently owned by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in King’s Cross, central London.

It will bring together the best people and organisations in neuroscience, mental health and education to work directly with children and their families. It will be a knowledge hub and community, developing new treatments, interventions and approaches informed by the most recent scientific discoveries to deliver better mental health services on a local, national and international level.  

At the heart of the centre of excellence is the Family School which is being specifically supported by Pears Foundation. It will be the first setting of its kind where mental health is completely integrated into children’s education and the entire family is supported. This helps the child gain the full benefit from their learning opportunities, with the aim of re-integrating into mainstream education. It will be a place where they can feel in charge of their own lives and have a voice in the support and treatment they receive. At full capacity the school will offer intensive, tailored psychological and educational support for up to 48 children aged between 5 and 14 who are at risk of permanent exclusion from mainstream school, and their families.

The close involvement of parents or carers is central to the school’s approach, as is working with teachers and other professionals to build the right support network around each child long term.  For some children a short stay at the school may be enough, others may need up to a year but for all the children the school’s aim is to reintegrate them back into mainstream setting.

Speaking about the partnership, Trevor Pears CMG, Executive Chair of the Pears Foundation, said:

“We are really excited and proud to be working with The Anna Freud Centre and having our family’s name associated with a ground-breaking facility like the centre of excellence and the school which will lie at its heart. This will really boost our ongoing commitment to developing understanding of the challenges children face today and how they can be supported.”

Prof Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, also welcomed the new partnership:

“Collaboration and partnership are going to be crucial if we are to succeed in delivering the step change in children’s mental health that we urgently need. Pears Foundation is a great example of a progressive partner who shares our values and passion for improving the lives of children, and I think the Family School will become an inspiration for many years to come for those seeking new ways to improve children’s mental health.”

Construction of the new school is due to start later this year with the aim of it opening its doors for the start of the new academic year in September 2018. The charity is continuing a major fundraising campaign to make the rest of the centre of excellence a reality.

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