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Impact of HeadStart on young celebrated at legacy event

The impact of the HeadStart programme in improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people in Wolverhampton was celebrated yesterday (Wednesday 22 June, 2022).

Launched thanks to nearly £10.7m 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 young people aged 10 to 16.

It worked with community providers, online services and schools to engage with youngsters and give them the skills they need to cope with the challenges of modern life.

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.

HeadStart Wolverhampton – Our Journey, which took place at Wolverhampton Racecourse yesterday, celebrated the Headstart Wolverhampton journey, and the legacy that it leaves behind.

It featured showcases from some of the community organisations which have helped support the city's children and young people through the HeadStart programme, including Positive Participation, the YMCA, Gazebo Theatre, WV10 Consortium, Base 25 and Changing Our Lives, while staff and pupils from Moreton School and Long Knowle Primary School talked about how they have embedded HeadStart practices in the classroom.

There were also presentations by Jessica Deighton from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and the City of Wolverhampton Council's Deputy Director for Commissioning and Transformation Andrew Wolverson who reflected on the programme’s learning and how this will shape a future offer for children, young people and families.

Councillor Beverley Momenabadi, the council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "HeadStart Wolverhampton has delivered some groundbreaking work to help improve the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people in our city, and it is only right that we celebrate the achievements of everybody involved, and share the learning of the programme.

"HeadStart Wolverhampton – Our Journey was the perfect way to do this, and to also find out more about how the programme’s legacy will help shape future services in the city.

“It enabled us to deliver fresh, innovative approaches in addressing mental health issues for children, young people and families, and this flexibility allowed for initiatives to be developed, priorities to be adapted and budgets to be re-profiled to reflect local needs.

“Thousands of children and young people in the city have benefitted from the activities, support and guidance provided through the HeadStart Wolverhampton programme and I would like to say a big thank you to all our providers, on behalf of HeadStart Wolverhampton, the council and the youngsters they have supported, for their hard work.

“We believe that learning from the programme will allow everyone involved to continue HeadStart’s legacy now that the programme has ended, and to continue to support our city’s children young people and families to enjoy better mental and emotional wellbeing in the future.”

The HeadStart Wolverhampton programme primarily supported children, young people and families living in four key areas of the city – Low Hill, Bushbury and The Scotlands; Blakenhall, All Saints, Parkfields and Ettingshall; Heath Town, Park Village, Eastfield, Springfield and Old Heath; and Bilston East.

Learning from the programme has already been embedded in city services such as Wolverhampton’s Youth Engagement Strategy (#YES), which launched in January 2020 and aims to help children and young people in the city feel healthy, connected and have the confidence to be themselves, as well as Yo! Wolverhampton, which aims to give young people in the city more opportunities and support with their mental health.

IMAGE 1: Melvin Riley, aged 20, activist and advocate for race equality, youth representation and mental health; Keisha Riley, aged 15, HeadStart event host; Councillor Beverley Momenabadi, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People; and Mischa Sawyer, aged 14, HeadStart event host, were among those taking part in the HeadStart Wolverhampton – Our Journey event at Wolverhampton Racecourse. IMAGE 2: Jessica Deighton from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families was a keynote speaker at the event.

IMAGE 3: The City of Wolverhampton Council's Executive Director of Families Emma Bennett and Melvin Riley, activist and advocate for race equality, youth representation and mental health, introduced today's event.


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