Findings from the HeadStart Wolverhampton programme have been used to pave the way for the city’s new Youth Engagement Strategy (#YES).

A report presented to Cabinet last week set out how the National Lottery-funded programme’s ‘test and learn’ approach has been used to help shape #YES.

This will ensure that when the 5 year HeadStart Wolverhampton programme ends in 2021, children, young people and their families will still be able to access the emotional wellbeing support it has provided to thousands of individuals since 2016.

HeadStart Wolverhampton works with community organisations and schools across the city to build emotional resilience in young people and their families, and since 2016 it has supported over 13,000 young people.

The lessons learned through the HeadStart Wolverhampton programme have helped shape the 3 key themes of #YES: Being Healthy, Being Connected and Being You. 

Being Healthy sets out the importance of emotional wellbeing services to young people in the city and ensuring they live happy, healthy lives.

Being Connected focuses on giving them places to go, activities to do and giving their parents support when needed.

Being You highlights the importance of co-production – a practice utilised by the HeadStart Wolverhampton team throughout the programme and which has subsequently used to shape #YES, by putting young people at the heart of the strategy and giving them a strategic position to drive forward the strategy’s ambitions.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The HeadStart Wolverhampton programme has done some brilliant work to improve the emotional wellbeing of the city’s youngsters since the programme started four years ago.

“With it now coming to an end, it was important that we ensure that this can continue and to embed it in our new Youth Engagement Strategy, #YES. This help us to ensure that young people in the city are happier and healthier, which in turn will mean a brighter future for the city as a whole.”

#YES was developed following extensive feedback from nearly 12,000 children and young people and their parents and carers and will support eight to 18 year olds, or up to 25 for those with special educational needs or disabilities, to be healthier, be connected and be heard.

It comes with additional funding of nearly £2 million over the next 3 years and its key priorities include: 

  • investing in a new youth engagement team to better connect youngsters to opportunities available across the city
  • establishing a new fund which young people, families and groups and organisations can use to commission and co-produce new activities, events and opportunities
  • enabling the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, to enjoy the full range of activities on offer in the city
  • developing a new website to promote the wide range of events, activities and opportunities available to children and young people in Wolverhampton all year round, for instance free swimming
  • building on the success of WV Holiday Squad by offering even more school holiday activities for children and young people, including throughout the recent February half term
  • providing more physical activity opportunities for children and young people and enabling them to make healthy lifestyle choices
  • developing new emotional wellbeing services
  • celebrating the positive achievements of the city’s children and young people

To find out more, please visit #YES Youth Engagement Strategy

HeadStart Wolverhampton, part of a £56 million programme set up by the National Lottery Community Fund, is designed to improve the emotional mental health and wellbeing of children and young people aged 10 to 16 by giving them the skills they need to cope with the challenges of modern life.

As well as running a series of specific programmes in its four key target areas, HeadStart Wolverhampton also offers city wide help through the HeadStart Wolverhampton Support and Guidance Directory which provides emotional mental health and wellbeing resources from different organisations, including information targeted at young people, parents and carers, and professionals. 

To find out more about HeadStart, please visit HeadStart, follow @headstartfm on Twitter or Instagram, or find HeadStart on Facebook.