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Young people give £10million bid a HeadStart

Young people are helping to shape a bid which could help access up to £10million of funding to help the city's children cope with the pressures of modern life.

Young people worked with professionals to develop suggestions for how the new service could look
Young people with their suggestions

Ellie Dobie, 14, and Scott Wilkinson, 16, from of St Peter's Collegiate School were among those who took part in the workshop
Ellie Dobie and Scott Wilkinson

They played a key role in a recent workshop involving key figures from health and social care providers - and shared their thoughts and opinions about how new services to tackle mental health issues among children and young people should look.

Wolverhampton was one of 12 areas invited to bid for support from the Big Lottery Fund's £75million HeadStart programme to develop new services aimed at helping 10 to 14 year olds cope with the pressures of modern life.

HeadStart will target what is recognised as a key period in a child's life, seeking to improve their resilience by giving young people the support and skills they need to cope with any difficulties they may experience. This in turn should help prevent them from developing common mental health problems.

Wolverhampton City Council was initially awarded £10,000 to develop a detailed bid which, if successful, will see the city receive £500,000 to launch new services locally. If these services can then be shown to be having a positive impact on young people, Wolverhampton could then receive up to £10 million over the next few years to develop the services further.

The workshop, which involved representatives from the council, HeadStart, health and social care providers, local schools and organisations which work with young people, will form a key part in the development of Wolverhampton's bid.

The young people gave a presentation of their hopes and fears for the future and shared personal stories of overcoming issues of self harm, depression and isolation - and, importantly, what helped them. Other young people spoke of the importance of creating caring and supportive environments in which to grow up in.

They then worked with professionals to develop models showing how the HeadStart service could look in Wolverhampton, identifying the need for young people to be put at the heart of the new service, ensuring it is easily accessible to all, raising awareness of the different forms mental illness takes, and tackling the stigma which surrounds mental health problems.

Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "I'd like to thank the young people who took part in this workshop, which has played a key role in shaping our bid for HeadStart funding.

"Getting their thoughts and experiences is essential so that we can design the sort of services that will be able to help young people cope with the pressures of modern life.

"I now look forward to Wolverhampton formally presenting our bid later this month."

Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: "Addressing mental health issues, particularly among children and young people, is a priority for us and so this is a fantastic opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people in Wolverhampton.

"Nationally, only around a quarter of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it - and usually only once they reach 18 - meaning younger children are missing out on vital support. We want to change that and ensure that the help and support they need is available - and, just as importantly, they feel able to ask for it."

  • released: Monday 7 April, 2014