Big Issue founder John Bird meets group tackling child mental ill health

Lord Bird praised the work of The Link social enterprise in Redcar, which is backed by Big Issue Invest and helps 900 children a year

Big Issue founder John Bird has been spending time with a social enterprise that supports children and families struggling with mental ill health.

Lord Bird was joined by financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman as the pair toured The Link in Redcar to learn more about the organisation’s work in the community.

The Link, which is part-funded by Big Issue Invest, was formed in 2011 and works across Redcar and Cleveland – a borough that’s in the top 10 per cent for deprivation in England.

The children have loved their sessions and got so much from them

It works with more than 900 children and their families every year, offering therapeutic services, activities, training and events. The youngsters are from deprived backgrounds and have been assessed as having a range of complex needs.

One parent said involved with the organisation said: “From first being in touch with The Link everyone has been amazing and helped my family so much. The children have loved their sessions and got so much from them. I am so pleased that The Link have been able to help my situation so much.”

After the visit, Lord Bird said: “It has been fantastic to meet the team here at The Link and see first-hand how Big Issue Invest has been able to support families in Redcar and Cleveland suffering from the terrible effects of mental health issues.

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit and I can’t thank the team enough for taking the time to show us around.”

His visit came as The Link signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge for business and employers. Lord Bird and The Big Issue Group got behind the pledge earlier this year.

Managing director of The Link Tina Jackson said: “The support we have had from Big Issue Invest, both financially and in terms of the provision of ongoing mentoring and business advice has been invaluable to us as a service.

“This past year has been a difficult one for all of us at The Link but following the advice Big Issue Invest has made our business model much more robust and we can look forward to the future.”

Mr Opperman echoed her comments, adding: “It has been brilliant to witness first-hand the excellent work that The Link is undertaking, supported by Big Issue Invest.”

Image: Konrad S Leader