First Steps

First Steps helps children and young people experiencing many common problems with emotional wellbeing, relationships and behaviour. Our aim is to provide prompt and easily accessible support – the first steps – to tackle problems early before they can become more of a worry.

Young people over 16, and the parents or carers of younger children, can come to us directly. Or you may be referred to us by a professional such as a GP, school or college staff or a health visitor. We are based at children’s centres and GP surgeries across Hackney and try to ensure our support is as local and convenient as possible.

Following an initial assessment, we’ll agree the best course of action. That may be a short six-week series of counselling or talking therapy sessions to help you understand what’s bothering you and find new ways to address your concerns. Sometimes we may suggest group sessions or offer specific support for parents, carers or family members.

We like to work collaboratively with families and we strive to be open-minded and respectful. We value the different cultural and religious communities within Hackney and work with interpreters when needed.

If, on assessment or during treatment, we think you could be better supported by more specialist or intensive services, we will arrange for you to see our Specialist CAMHS team.


We accept children and young people aged 0-18, registered with a GP in City and Hackney, with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. For children under 16, we need the consent of a legally responsible parent or guardian.

We are unable to accept self-referrals from families currently receiving children’s social care. If this affects you, please speak with your social worker who will be able to arrange the support you need.


Access our service

Young people over 16, parents or guardians should call us on 020 7014 7135 between 9am and 5pm weekdays. If no clinician is immediately available to take your call, leave a valid UK number and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.

Professionals should use the SPA Referral form


First Steps

  • 020 7014 7135 (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)
  • First Steps, Hackney Ark, Downs Park Road, London, E8 2FP