Planning, recruitment, and resourcing for a multi-million pound programme to improve the lives of young people in Wolverhampton is well underway.
The City of Wolverhampton Council's ground-breaking HeadStart programme is designed to improve the mental health and well-being of children and young people aged 10 to 16 by giving them the skills they need to cope with the challenges of modern life.
Thousands of young people received help and support during a two-year pilot, and this summer the council was granted additional Big Lottery Fund money to extend HeadStart for a further five years, meaning thousands more young people will benefit from the programme between 2017 and 2021.
The help and support will be delivered both city-wide and through targeting four key areas of Wolverhampton where need is known to be greatest.
The city-wide offer focuses on providing information and advice to young people, parents and professionals via digital and multi-media platforms including HeadStart's own website, www.headstart.fm, as well as through awareness raising events and anti-stigma campaigns led by young people.
There will also be specific support for young people aged 10-16 living in four target geographic areas: Low Hill, The Scotlands and Bushbury South; Springfield, Heath Town, Park Village and Eastfield; All Saints, Blakenhall, Parkfields and Ettingshall; and Bilston East.
In those areas there will be a universal offer to all young people aged 10-16, targeted support to those making the transition from primary to secondary school, and personalised help for young people who are identified as being most at risk of developing long-term mental health issues, for instance young carers, children in the care system, new arrivals, young people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community.
Detailed planning for the implementation of the next phase of HeadStart is currently taking place, with the first activities due to begin early in 2017. The HeadStart team is also developing four community-based "hubs" from which services will be delivered.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "HeadStart has a crucial role to play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people, and a great deal of work is currently underway to shape the programme over the next five years.
"Through the first two years of the programme, we've been able to find out what works best for our young people. It’s clear that young people cannot succeed if they are being bullied or having to deal with other things going on in their head, and HeadStart has enabled them to feel better about themselves and given them valuable skills for later life.”
For more information about HeadStart, please visit www.headstart.fm or follow on Twitter at @headstartfm or FaceBook at www.facebook.com/headstartfm.