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Posted on Feb 11 2022 by Fiona Bailey

A family-run Northamptonshire based company is hoping to “restore and help treat” children across the country who may be suffering with their mental health.

To mark the last day of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which started on Monday, February 7, Billing Finance has pledged a total of £5,000 to the St Andrew’s LightBulb programme. It costs £1 per pupil to roll out the initiative, which means the generosity of the company will benefit 5,000 young people.

The LightBulb initiative was developed to spot the early signs of anxiety and depression among young people at school, and has so far helped 11,000 children across the county.

Billing Finance, located in Great Billing, provide finance for cars, motorbikes and other vehicles and the company also offers hire purchase agreements to consumers throughout the UK.

Oliver Mackaness, Billing Finance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our company tagline states we ‘put people at the heart of everything we do’ and we wanted to do something that proves that we absolutely do this.

“Unfortunately, working in the finance sector, we see on a daily basis how mental health issues can lead to money worries. Similarly, when someone gets into financial difficulties, it is very likely that their mental health will suffer too. We firmly believe it is vital to teach children how to look after their mental health so that when they are adults they are more prepared for the challenges they may face.

“It’s vital we nurture the brilliant minds that our children are developing and sadly, experiencing mental health issues can hamper this, which is why the LightBulb programme is such an important initiative. It really does provide children with the tools they need to cope in a complicated world. We know the pandemic has had a significant impact on young people, so Billing Finance wants to restore and help treat as many children as we can.

“No child should be suffering in silence and a lot of young people and their teachers, guardians, parents and carers might not even realise there’s a problem until it has grown, and by then it might become harder to tackle. By educating all those who come into contact with young people about the early signs, together, I think we can make a real change.” 

LightBulb is suitable for both primary and secondary schools and has been designed to help educators spot the early signs of mental health issues in children and then take appropriate early action. It provides a ready-made framework so those that participate can demonstrate and showcase excellence regarding mental health practice to regulatory bodies such as Ofsted.

Support and advice is also provided to parents, carers and guardians. The young people are also provided with resources so they can understand what feelings they, and their friends, may be experiencing and when it might be time to ask for help.

Cheryl Smith, LightBulb founder and Headteacher of St Andrew’s College which offers education to young people in St Andrew’s care, said: “It has been a real privilege to have the opportunity to reach out to so many schools and make such a difference to their performance and procedures mental health.

“We have also used it as a massive stepping stone to creating something which will continue to benefit schools across the country.  

“In addition to reaching thousands of children, we have also helped hundreds of teaching staff through this project, all of whom have increased their knowledge and understanding of how to recognise, support and signpost students who are showing signs of struggling with their mental health through the training we have provided.

“We have also ensured that the schools working with us have embedded a culture of positive mental health for their staff, pupils and families, and we have built relationships with each provider and service so they can reach out if they need additional training, advice or support from us.

“With the money that Billing Finance have so generously donated, this means we can continue with our work, and helping many more schools so I could like to thank Oliver and his team.”

For more information about LightBulb, click here.

For more information about Billing Finance, click here