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Place2Be Chief Executive Catherine Roche receives an honorary doctorate from UEL

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UEL's School of Psychology and charity Place2Be have a close working relationship

The University of East London (UEL) rounded off two days of graduation celebrations by awarding an honorary doctorate to Catherine Roche, Chief Executive at the UK's leading provider of school based mental health services, Place2Be.

The graduation ceremony, held at ExCeL London on 19 July, was for students from the School of Psychology, part of UEL’s College of Applied Health and Communities. The honour was in recognition of the close working relationship Dr Roche and Place2Be have developed with UEL over the last ten years. 

Dr Roche (pictured centre with UEL Chancellor Shabir Randeree, left, and UEL Chair of Governors Geoff Thompson, said, “When I received the letter saying I had been nominated I was absolutely taken aback and humbled.  It’s a great honour to receive this on behalf of Place2Be.”

Recalling Place2Be’s early days, Dr Roche said, “The intention even in the early days was to build an organisation that would meet the need in schools on a national scale.  And so we worked on developing a model that was scalable, with quality and evidence central to our approach and school communities but especially children at its heart.” 

An independent charity since 1994, Place2Be now reaches thousands of children each year, helping them to cope with wide-ranging and often complex issues including bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, family breakdown and addiction issues, neglect and trauma.

It works directly with close to 300 schools nationwide, with mental health services being delivered by a combined team of more than 1,400 staff and counsellors on clinical placement.  

In addition to services to schools, Place2Be is also a leading provider of specialist training and university-validated qualifications in children’s mental health. 


The relationship between Place2Be and the University of East London started in 2008 when Place2Be developed a postgraduate diploma in Counselling Children validated by UEL. 

Giving advice to graduating students as they enter the workplace, Dr Roche emphasised the importance of having a strong support network to help build resilience.

“Having special people around us who we can reach out to during life’s ups and downs is essential,” she said. “We all need a special someone who is there for us and who can build our confidence.”