If you have read this blog before, you will know that education and giving children from all backgrounds a fair start in life is a topic that is very important to me.
That is why I wanted to write about a wonderful charitable organisation in Cambridge called Blue Smile. Blue Smile is a new Cambridgeshire children’s charity that provides counselling and therapy for pupils in schools between the ages of 3 and 13 during a critical window of opportunity for change.
I realise I usually write about Bristol companies, events and general goings-on, but you can still show your support from Bristol, you know.
Location, in fact, plays an important part in the necessity for support provided by Blue Smile. Outside Cambridge, most people’s immediate thoughts about this lovely area are to do with its prestigious university and its affluent and well educated inhabitants.
Cambridge is quaint old England, the England that the tourists visit and the spectacularly clever move to in order to study.
That is exactly why children who come from difficult or impoverished backgrounds that live in the area are overlooked.
They are overlooked when it comes to governmental and local area authority provision of funds due to the prosperity of the area as a whole. They are also often overlooked by independent parties who would be happy to provide support for the same problems in other areas.
The fact is that (as is the case in all areas overall affluence) there are pockets of deprivation. And it is because of this necessity for help that Blue Smile was set up in the first place, and it is why I am writing this post to try and help publicise the great work they are doing.
Blue Smile was born out of increasing requests from head teachers for support for emotionally vulnerable children. The charity was set up in 2010 by a local child psychotherapist seeking to address the lack of local children’s health provision – a lack which was identified by the director of children’s services for the local NHS trust. He is now chair of Blue Smile’s trustees.
The wonderful thing about Blue Smile is that the organisation started on the foundation that it would address a genuine need – children were consulted about what they needed and wanted from the service, and also decided on its name. An anonymous donor believed in the cause, and provided £50,000 to launch it – which sounds like a huge sum – but given the growing need of children in a climate of recession, and the shrinking of statutory funds, that set up money was put to good use very quickly. It also means that Blue Smile is reliant on donors, sponsors and volunteers in order to keep the charity going.
Among the world’s richest nations, the UK has the highest number of children living in poverty (second only to the US). This seriously affects educational attainment, mental health and well being in general. And if these problems are not addressed at an early age, they pose much more long term and serious threats for both the individual and society in general.
80% of adult crime is committed by those who had behavioural problems as a child – and it is these problems and countless others that can be addressed early by charities like Blue Smile.
They provide therapy and mentoring to children aged 3 – 13 in Cambridgeshire, and rely on fundraising, donations and corporate sponsorships to survive. The charity has kept going due to the dedication and very hard work of a few passionate people who really care about their cause. But, obviously, dedication and hard graft alone can only go so far.
In the next 5 years, Cambridgeshire County Council is required to make savings of £160.6 million (the £50,000 set up seems pretty small now, right?) £44 million of which is being cut from children and young people’s services.
That is why Blue Smile needs support, sponsorship and donations. Whether you want to make an individual donation, help with fundraising events, or provide much needed corporate sponsorship , the dedicated team at Blue Smile would love to hear from you. Even if you can’t donate, you can raise awareness.
So pretty please, spread the word, and get in touch.
You can follow Blue Smile on Twitter @BlueSmileCam