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Our history

For almost 30 years, Place2Be has provided in-school emotional support to children and young people.

Since we were founded in 1994, we’ve grown from supporting a handful of inner London schools, to working with over 700 schools nationwide.


On 4 September 1994, Dame Benny Refson DBE sets up Place2Be to provide emotional support at an early age. She was inspired by a Family Service Unit (FSU) project in Southwark called The Place to Be, which had placed a counsellor in a primary school.

My experience as a counsellor working with adolescents gave me the passion to found Place2Be in 1994. I knew that we needed to reach children's problems sooner rather than later so their problems don't grow with them. Benita Refson DBE


The Place2Talk self-referral service is launched, providing a safe place to talk through any worries and issues during the busy school day. This self-referral is still a key component of our services and has a permanent presence in Place2Be schools.


Place2Be’s first counsellor training course launches, funded by the Department of Health. Our goal was to equip counsellors in local communities with the specialist knowledge needed to work with children. This course, now known as our Foundation Course, is still delivered today.


The KPMG Millennium Appeal funds to extend our services across the UK. We are awarded the Guardian charity award for smaller organisations.


Place2Be launches a pilot programme in an Edinburgh school. The pilot was a success, and in 2004 we expanded our services to eight other schools in Edinburgh.


In Croydon, Place2Be pilots A Place for Parents, a dedicated support service for parents. The service rolled out in Durham, Medway, Greenwich and Nottingham in 2005 with support from the Government's Parenting Fund.


Our founder Benita Refson is awarded an OBE for services to children, young people, and their families. The same year, we launch our Secondary Transition Support service in secondary schools.


The first economic analysis of Place2Be's services finds that the £2m cost of supporting children and young people with one-to-one sessions could produce a lifetime cost-saving of £15m to society. The projected avoidance of long-term mental health problems would mean a net return on investment of 600%.

The analysis also finds that Place2Be weekly counselling is half the cost of Children's Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).


Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales, becomes the Royal Patron of Place2Be.


As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, Place2Be launches Children's Mental Health Week. The week aims to raise awareness of children's and young people's mental health and the support available and encourage conversations about mental health.


Place2Be is a founding partner of Heads Together, the mental health initiative spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales. Place2Be's founder, Benny Refson, is awarded a Damehood for Services to Education the same year.


Place2Be celebrates its 25th birthday. Funded by the Lord Mayor's Appeal, we launch a pilot programme with OnSide Youth Zones to explore if we could replicate our in-school mental health services in a youth club setting.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we deliver support remotely and face-to-face to families in need. Our teams deliver over 33,000 phone support sessions. We also pilot our Mental Health Champions - Foundation programme for 3,300 teachers and allied professionals.


Our Parenting Smart website launched, featuring practical advice for parents of 4–11-year-olds. We also develop our quality-assured Senior Mental Health Leads training programme - the Department for Education quality-assured programme supports leaders in developing a whole school approach to mental health.