Their Royal Highnesses visited The Way, Wolverhampton's popular Youth Zone which motivates and inspires young people to transform their lives. The Way allows young people the opportunity to participate in positive and constructive activities and provides them with somewhere to go and someone to talk to.
The Duke and Duchess were welcomed by young ambassadors from HeadStart Wolverhampton, Melissa Page, David Omorehiomwan, Keisha Riley, Harman Kambo and Safira Palmrira, and took part in wellbeing sessions with pupils from Moreton School and Long Knowle Primary School, both of which are closely involved in the HeadStart programme, and young people from The Way.
Established by The National Lottery Community Fund, HeadStart is designed to improve the resilience and emotional wellbeing of children and young people by giving them the skills they need to address the challenges of modern life.
As part of the programme, The Anna Freud Centre, a Heads Together charity partner of which The Duchess is Patron, is evaluating evidence about new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people and to prevent serious mental health issues from developing. It includes survey responses from 65,000 children and young people – including many young people from Wolverhampton, such as those accessing HeadStart support – about their mental health and the strengths, skills and social connections that support their wellbeing.
Kush Patel, Children's Innovation Lead at the City of Wolverhampton Council, spoke to Their Royal Highnesses about the HeadStart Wolverhampton programme. She said: "I was honoured to meet Their Royal Highnesses and have the opportunity to discuss with them the vital role that HeadStart is playing in supporting our city's children and young people to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
"Our young ambassadors were also thrilled to meet The Duke and Duchess and take part in activities with them during their visit."
Carla Priddon, CEO of The Way, said: "We were delighted to be able to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to The Way Youth Zone and to talk to them about some of the ways that we are helping children and young people to improve their mental health and wellbeing. It was a privilege to show The Duke and Duchess around and to enable them to take part in a mind-mapping activity with the young people and to help plant fruit and vegetables in our garden."
The visit of Their Royal Highnesses falls ahead of Mental Health Minute tomorrow (Friday) – a one minute message due to be simulcast across over 500 UK radio stations at 10.59am. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are voicing this year’s minute alongside influential voices in support of Shout 85258.
Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health, hosted annually by the Mental Health Foundation. This year’s theme is centred around nature and the important role it can play to help improve mental wellbeing, as well as its power to prevent or aid recovery from poor mental health.
HeadStart is a six-year, £67.4 million National Lottery funded programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It aims to explore and test new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 16 and prevent serious mental health issues from developing.
Blondel Cluff CBE, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The mental wellbeing of children and young people remains of vital importance after this challenging year.
"It was an honour to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and show them some of the work that HeadStart Wolverhampton makes possible for local young people to help improve their mental health, wellbeing and resilience. Thanks to National Lottery players through the UK we are able to help fund this essential work in our communities.”
Professor Jessica Deighton, Director of the Applied Research and Evaluation Division at the Anna Freud National Centre, added: “We’re delighted that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Wolverhampton today. HeadStart is an such an important project and puts young people at the heart of exploring effective support for mental health.
“The learning that we will gain HeadStart has the potential to help us understand more about the best ways to support young people’s mental health. Our data is incredibly rich and draws on the views of around 65,000 young people as well as their experiences of taking part in HeadStart.”