A FORMER model has launched a bid to help people who have been through trauma on the back of her own experiences.

Francesca Chantell grew up in Hemlington, Middlesbrough, and went through a tough childhood before embarking on a modelling career. 

After spells living in London, battling eating disorders and her own mental health, the 28-year-old has now returned to Teesside with her “Thinking Frankly” platform to give people a chance to open up.

Francesca said it was when she got a therapist herself that she discovered it was a chance to help others through similar experiences.

She said: “I launched Thinking Frankly for people to speak truths and to understand we’re all the same basically.

“Things happen to all of us – and we need to be less ashamed about it. 

“Being ashamed leads to seeing things that aren’t really true and creates a lot of depression and anxiety.

“We’re not closed-minded on Teesside – but we tend to keep our own business to ourselves and we keep our own problems in our own four walls which is an old mentality. 

“It’s easy to put on a show and let things go unspoken like child abuse, abusive homes or mums and dads constantly arguing.

“Sometimes it happens more in certain parts of Teesside – but this happens all over the world. 

“I’m a Teessider and I want to get this message out more. 

“It may resonate coming from someone who’s lived here, rather than someone who’s come from outside.”

Francesca was one of six siblings and grew in the care system on Teesside with a number of different families. 

At 16, she moved to London with her aunt in a bid to find her roots – before attending university in Manchester and embarking on a modelling career. 

Francesca added: “I started modelling when I was 17/18 and then I got a therapist as I was going through a very difficult time. 

“I needed someone to help me with childhood trauma and things I’d been through – he completely transformed my life. 

“It’s always inspired me – when I was younger I was always that person people would come to for advice or help so I’ve always had that role. 

“I wanted to help and educate people that their past does not define who they are.”

The 28-year-old explained how her seven years in the modelling industry brought complications with eating disorders and other pressures.

“It’s a completely different lifestyle and really full on,” she added.

“The reason I did it was for an escape from Teesside – to travel and have an escape.”

A job at a “life transformational” wellness retreat in Spain put her on a new career path before Francesca returned to Teesside in February.

The pandemic then struck, leaving her in Ingleby Barwick during the lockdown. 

Francesca added: “I’ve just started a platform and doing live videos and getting people to speak.

“I’ve been giving advice – it’s getting more known on Teesside to try and support more people.

“Not everyone wants to exercise, or to be told what to do. 

“Some people are really resistant to helping themselves – but creating long lasting change is just being open and aware of your feelings and emotions and then seeking help.

“It’s embarrassing sometimes because people find it awkward and embarrassing to reach out and seek help.”

Thinking Frankly has reached 3,600 followers on Instagram with talks on anxiety, mental health and advice. 

To find out more, visit the page at: https://www.instagram.com/thinkingfrankly/