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London charity reaches out to one million children with innovative mental health programme

Article By: Julia Corbett, News Editor

London based charity Partnership for Children is celebrating its milestone of helping one million children across the world through the charity’s programme aimed at teaching children resilience and coping skills.

Partnership for Children has taught one million children in 26 different countries ways to cope with life’s difficulties and anxieties they might experience through its mental health programme Zippy’s Friends.

The story–based programme, Zippy’s Friends, explores the themes of feelings, communication, relationships, conflict resolution, change and loss, and coping using a range of activities to give children the opportunity to ask questions, share information, role play and use storytelling to boost their understanding.

Chris Bale, director of Partnership for Children, said, “We are delighted to have reached the significant landmark of our first million children as good mental health is so important for children and adults in all societies.

“Just as we pay attention to our children’s physical health by encouraging them to eat well and to exercise, not because they are ill but because we want to promote their health, so Zippy’s Friends promotes children’s mental good health by teaching children skills for life in a positive and fun manner rather than treating mental ill health.”

The charity has helped children aged between five and seven across Europe, India, China and Latin America since Partnership for Children was founded in 2002.

The programme’s reach is not limited to children already ‘at risk’, and instead gives all children the skills required to cope with life’s difficulties to arm them with crucial coping tips and advice.

Mr Bale continued: “Given the increasing pressures that children and young people are facing today, it is crucial that children learn coping strategies to help them when they face crises in life. Learning resilience at a young age will have lifelong benefits for children during their lives and for society. A recent report for the Mayor of London said that problems resulting from poor mental health are costing the city of London a staggering £26bn a year, mainly in care costs and lost productivity.

“A report for the Department of Health three years ago on the economic benefits of promoting positive mental health also found that social and emotional learning programmes for children had a return on investment of just under £84 per £1 spent, and concluded, ‘There is a strong case that school-based social and emotional learning programmes are cost-saving for the public sector.’

“Investing in mental health promotion will have real and tangible benefits for our children, our families and our society. We are delighted that Zippy’s Friends is playing its part in achieving this around the world and here in England.”

Randi Talseth, secretary general of the Norwegian NGO Voksne for Barn, which promotes children and adolescent mental health and manages Zippy's Friends in Norwegian schools, is chair of trustees of Partnership for Children. She said, “More and more research worldwide indicates that one of the best skills each of us can learn is how to cope with stress as doing that will have a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives.

“To know that one million children around the world have taken part in our Zippy’s Friends programme and are benefiting from it is marvellous.”

For more information on Partnership for Children’s work visit:


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