Today, (7th June) Big Issue founder Lord John Bird and Minister for Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman MP visited The Link (CIC) Redcar, to learn more about the organisation’s work in the local community, providing services to children and families suffering from mental health challenges.

The visitors were shown around The Link in Redcar, which is part-funded by Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue Magazine, which Lord Bird founded in 1991.

The Link was established in May 2011 and founded by Tina Jackson, a social care professional. The social enterprise covers the borough of Redcar and Cleveland which is within the top 10% of Local Authorities in the 2015 English Indices of Deprivation.

The visit comes as The Link announced that it has just signed the Social Mobility Pledge for business and employers. Lord Bird and The Big Issue Group confirmed their support for the Pledge earlier in the year.

The Link provide a variety of therapeutic services, activities, training and events to support children, young people and families who are facing challenges in relation to mental health. They currently work with more than 900 children, young people and their parents/carers every year. The families that they work with come from areas of high deprivation and are assessed as having a range of complex needs by referral agencies.

Lord Bird said: “It has been fantastic to meet the team here at The Link today 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.

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

Tina Jackson, Managing Director of The Link, 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!”

A parent supported by The Link 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”.

For more information, visit redcarlink.com or bigissueinvest.com.