Launched thanks to nearly £10.7 million in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, HeadStart Wolverhampton used a ‘test and learn’ approach to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 16.
It worked with community providers, online services and schools to engage with youngsters and give them the skills to cope with the challenges of modern life, and primarily supported children, young people and families living in Low Hill, Bushbury and The Scotlands; Blakenhall, All Saints, Parkfields and Ettingshall; Heath Town, Park Village, Eastfield, Springfield and Old Heath; and Bilston East.
Well over 13,000 young people in the city accessed HeadStart support, along with over 700 parents and guardians. A total of 75 community organisations were involved in the design and delivery of the programme.
Among the highlights of the programme was the development, in HeadStart schools, of an emotional and mental wellbeing toolkit which has been accredited by the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) Association in 2021 and is now available nationally for schools to use.
Community groups involved in the programme have been successful in securing over £700,000 in additional funding to complement and enhance the HeadStart offer, and this will ensure their work will continue in the months and years ahead.
Meanwhile, learning from the programme has also informed and enhanced the city wide co-production offer, enabling young people to have a voice in the city’s strategic decision making forums. This input not only empowers the young people, but is also helping to increase awareness about the importance of individual and collective emotional and mental wellbeing.
Councillor Beverley Momenabadi, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "HeadStart Wolverhampton will leave a lasting legacy for our city's children and young people.
"We have tested, we have learned and we and our partners have started to embed the successes we have discovered along the way into our everyday work, and into future service provision."
A report asking councillors to endorse the use of learning from the Headstart programme in the future planning of wellbeing services for children and young people is due to go before members of the council's Cabinet on Wednesday (6 July).