Debbie Frances FRSA
CEO | Lead Trainer
Founder of The Project, early intervention support model for young people

Deputy Prime Minister's
Mental Health Hero Award Winner

about Debbie ...


Debbie Frances is the Founder, CEO and Lead Trainer at The Project Training & Consultancy, and Founder of The Project, an early intervention peer support network for young people experiencing mental health issues.  Drawing on lived experience of mental illness, through caring for her daughter who developed mental health issues in her teens, Debbie brings a unique and practical perspective, which others have found inspiring, insightful and relatable.

Debbie first started having discussions with CAMHS in 2012 about her ideas for a community-based early intervention support service for young people, and from that seed The Project was born​.  Initially opening in East Devon in 2013, a second group opened in South Somerset in 2016, and only funding restrictions has prevented further groups from opening since, although there are plans for further expansion.

Debbie has been working locally and nationally to raise awareness around young people's mental health since 2011, working tirelessly to challenge stigma, increase openness and improve services for young people.  Since then, she and The Project, have achieved a number of key successes, most notably:

  • 2018: Awarded Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship, travelling to Finland and Australia to carry out research into early intervention initiatives promoting positive wellbeing in young people. Read more =>

  • 2018: Venus Awards Finalist in the 'Inspirational Woman of the Year' category. Read more =>

  • 2018: Suicide First Aider and Caregiver, having completed ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, an evidence-based course delivered worldwide

  • 2017: Presented The Project to Department for Education, as an example of best practice in peer support. View report =>

  • 2017: Invited to Queen's Garden Party in recognition of her work in the field of mental health

  • 2016: The Project was a finalist in the Youth category of the National Diversity Awards

  • 2015: Awarded Deputy Prime Minister's Mental Health Hero Award for her work in raising awareness and challenging stigma around mental illness

  • 2015: The Project was shortlisted in the MHFA England Awards in recognition of the work being done to change attitudes and provide support

  • 2014: Developed a successful programme of mental health awareness training and workshops, which she has continued to deliver and expand

  • 2013- 2018: Founded, and managed, The Project, a successful early intervention peer support network for young people with mental health issues, based in Devon and Somerset, which has supported hundreds of young people since opening

  • 2013: Fellow of School for Social Entrepreneurs, and has acted as a peer witness on many subsequent SSE courses

  • 2013 - 2018: Set up and facilitated The Project's Parent & Carer Support Group, working and liaising with parents of young people of all ages

  • 2011: Invited to open Plymbridge House, Plymouth, a Tier 4 inpatient unit for young people

  • 2011-present: Given numerous television and radio interviews, and inspirational talks, both locally and nationally


Having successfully project managed The Project until March 2018, Debbie has now stepped down from that role in order to expand the training and workshops programme, provide consultancy around early intervention support for young people, and further develop The Project's model to allow replication in other areas.