The Holding Collective (CIC)

The spotlight is shining on mental health and emotional wellbeing like never before. And with good reason.

The stats are alarming, especially as parents.

1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder, that’s about 3 children in every classroom.  50% of all mental health problems appear before age of 14;  3 in 4 children with a diagnosable mental health condition don’t get access to support they need.

There’s a “steep rise” (68%) in self harm among teenage girls aged 13 to 16 years. Research shows children who self-harm have ‘especially noticeable increases in risks of suicide and fatal acute alcohol or drug poisoning’.

Over 200 children are lost to suicide every year, it is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. It’s also the leading killer of men under the age of 50.  1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences; half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14 & 75% by age 24.

Yet, less than 1% of the total NHS budget is spent on children and young people’s mental health services. The government is working hard to improve this with large injections of funding.

However with 157,000 missed CAMHS appointments in 2016 costing the NHS over £45million (source: The Children’s Society based on Freedom of Information data obtained from NHS mental health trusts) and from numerous other reports highlighting issues, it’s clear that the current system is not working.

The system to bring about the mass change we desperately need has yet to be created.


Our solution

Here at The Holding Collective we are committed to ending the stigma around mental health/ emotional wellbeing and we’re passionate about orchestrating mass change. We believe to be effective this change has to start with children, young people and their families.

Acknowledging and supporting the emotional needs of children is absolutely essential to the healthy wellbeing of young people and the adults they develop into. It can positively impact the whole of their lives.

Early intervention in a school setting is therefore, for us, an essential ‘no-brainer’:

  • Embeds emotional wellbeing in the system
  • Provides support from a young age
  • Is very easily accessed, increasing the likelihood of success

Research from a study in the US shows children who did sessions at school had a 91% completion rate compared to just 15% for those who had to be taken to a clinic every week.

Our work is based on a fantastic (‘relatively cheap and very effective’) award-winning therapeutic services model for schools that has been successfully piloted over four years, in a State Primary School in north London . The dream is to roll it out everywhere.

The model features in the latest BBC “People Fixing the World” podcast.

Whole school support (including 40 children having a weekly session with a therapist onsite) costs circa £8,000 plus the salary of the Pastoral Care Officer/ Wellbeing Manager.

With no referrals to CAMHS and no exclusions, the results are impressive.


About Us

The Holding Collective is a social enterprise supporting children and families with their emotional wellbeing.

In the long-term we endeavour to be self-sustaining to ensure the Collective’s survival. And because we believe it’s evidence of good governance. We’re also grateful for donations from individuals and organisations who share our dream and share our values and interests; these donations enable us to harness technology and resource to be much more effective and efficient. (If we’ve piqued your interest enough to want to start a conversation, please do get in touch.)

As a Community Interest Company (CIC), supporters who invest in us can be assured that any and all profits are legally bound to be reinvested in the Collective to the continuous benefit of children and young people.

Katy Whitney – Chief Programme Director
(Photo by Nicky J Sims)

As Chief Programme Director at The Holding Collective, Katy is responsible for the staff, logistics and content of the programme which places therapeutic services units into schools across the UK. Katy led the team behind the award-winning pilot and has national and regional awards for her work.

A Strategic Partner with Haringey LA, Katy was part of their successful £1m bid to be a Trailblazer site – one of only 20 in the UK – based on the therapeutic services model.

As a sought-after mental health expert, Katy was invited to deliver a lecture to over 300 professionals at the Royal Society of Medicine’s 16th Medical Innovations Summit. The Summit provides a twice-yearly worldwide platform for the presentation and discussion of inspirational ideas and developments in the field of medicine and healthcare.

In conjunction with The British Council, Katy met with delegates from the Ministry of Education for Iraq this year. Focus of these meetings was to look at how to implement, monitor and evaluate school counselling services in Iraq.

Katy trained as an adult counsellor and has been working therapeutically with children and families for over ten years. During her training as a Humanistic Counsellor, Katy specialised in working with adults affected by bereavement and completed three years as an honorary counsellor within the NHS.

Katy also still works across several schools – including Primary & Secondary special needs – as Pastoral Care and Safeguarding Lead where she is responsible for developing therapeutic, pastoral and safeguarding interventions.


Claire Bardner – CEO

Claire moved into the Third Sector after a successful career in the private sector. As a strategic consultant she has evaluated and developed strategy for War Child’s schools programme and most recently was headhunted to set-up the new Individual Supporters department at the UK’s leading youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

Claire specialises in strategic planning and innovation with considerable brand, marcomms, fundraising and PR expertise. Claire is an award-winning inventor and an experienced social entrepreneur.

As CEO of The Holding Collective, Claire is on a mission with Katy to promote and embed therapeutic services into UK schools.

A Strategic Partner with Haringey LA, Claire worked with Katy on Haringey’s successful bid to be a government Trailblazer site – one of only 20 in the UK – based on the therapeutic services model. This secured an additional £1m for children and young people in the Borough to support their wellbeing.

Claire has extensive experience in CYP mental health with particular interest in domestic abuse/ coercive control, NPD and trauma. Claire ran a workshop at the Mental Health in Schools Conference 2018 and is additionally working with Katy on a project to develop pioneering Zero Suicide PSHE resources for schools.


Awards & Speaking Engagements

Key Reports

If you're interested in CYPMH we hope you find these reports as insightful as we have.
Stick with us: Tackling missed appointments in children’s mental health services”
Report by The Children’s Society based on Freedom of Information data obtained from NHS mental health trusts. September 2017
Lighting Review: Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services”
Report by The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield May 2016
“Future in Mind – Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing”
Report of the work of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce. March 2015
“Keeping young people in mind – findings from a survey of schools across England” to gain greater understanding of the mental health issues they are facing
Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Children’s Bureau February 2016
“Mental ill-health among children of the new century: trends across childhood with a focus on age 14.”
Patalay P & Fitzsimons E. Centre for Longitudinal Studies: UCL Institute of Education, London September 2017
“Children’s and Adolescents’ mental health and CAMHS”
House of Commons Health Select Committee Third Report of Session 2014-2015 Published 5 November 2014
"Transforming CYPMH Provision: a Green Paper"
Secretary of State for Health & Secretary of State for Education December 2017 Government Green Paper Dec 2017


The Holding Collective is a registered Community Interest Company (CIC), company number 12064464. As a social enterprise we use the profits and assets from our organisation for the public good. The Holding Collective exists to benefit children and young people under 25 by supporting their emotional wellbeing with services and resources. We are now seeking funding from individuals and organisations who share our ethos and passion for investing in children’s emotional wellbeing. If you would like to fund any aspect of our work or are interested to discuss this further, please contact us:

Contact Us

If you have any questions or are interested to know more, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch: