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Our history

For over 25 years, Place2Be has been providing 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 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 provides funding for us to extend our services across the UK. In the same year, we’re named Overall Winner at The Guardian Charity Awards.


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


In Croydon, Place2Be pilots 'A Place for Parents', a dedicated support service for parents. This was 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 and families. In 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 with one-to-one sessions could produce a life-time cost-saving of £15m to society – meaning a net return on investment of 600% – because of the projected avoidance of long-term mental health problems. The analysis also finds that Place2Be weekly counselling is half the cost of CAMHS.


Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge becomes Royal Patron of Place2Be.


As part of Place2Be's 20th birthday celebrations, Children's Mental Health Week is launched. The week aims to raise awareness of children's mental health, 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 Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In the same year, Place2Be's founder, Benny Refson, is awarded a Damehood for Services to Education.


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


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


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