Young people in Wolverhampton have been given a multi-million pound boost after the City of Wolverhampton Council received Big Lottery Fund support to extend its HeadStart programme for another five years.
The ground-breaking project is designed to improve the health and well-being of children and young people aged 10 to 16 by giving them the skills they need to cope with the trials and tribulations of modern life.
Thousands of young people received help and support during a two-year pilot programme, the council has today (Wednesday 20 July, 2016) been told it will receive a further £8.8m from the Big Lottery Fund to continue HeadStart until 2021.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "This is absolutely fantastic news for young people in our city.
“Improving the health and wellbeing of our young people are priorities for the council and I am delighted that the HeadStart programme will continue playing a key role in this.
"Through the first two years of the programme, we've been able to find out what works best for our young people. The tremendous benefits our pilot projects have brought have been recognised by the Big Lottery Fund, and this £8.8m grant will enable us to support thousands more young people over the next five years."
Wolverhampton was selected to receive initial HeadStart funding from the Big Lottery Fund in 2014 to develop new services for young people.
During the pilot phase, HeadStart Wolverhampton delivered special resilience training to 2,400 young people, helping them deal with change, build relationships and tackle problems which could cause depression and anxiety. More than 350 pupils were trained to offer support and mentoring to their peers, while hundreds of education and other professionals were also equipped to deliver resilience sessions.
Across Wolverhampton, 15 pilot projects were also run in the community, mainly by voluntary organisations commissioned by the council. These reached over 1,100 young people and led to a range of positive outcomes, including children stopping self-harming and giving them the confidence to stand up to playground bullies. Parents were given new skills to help their children deal with stress.
Hundreds more young people also either took part in digital programmes or played key roles in helping to shape the HeadStart programme in the city.
An evaluation of the programme by the University of Wolverhampton found that young people were using their new coping strategies and social and emotional skills to modify their behaviour and improve relationships in school and with their friends and family. Teachers noted that pupils were dealing with situations better, improving their learning.
Councillor Gibson said: “The HeadStart team have thought deeply about how best to give support to the most vulnerable young people in Wolverhampton.
“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 young people to feel better about themselves and given them valuable skills for later life.”
Wolverhampton Youth Councillor Kashmire Hawker said: "I am absolutely delighted to see the amazing work that HeadStart has put in over the last two years rewarded with the biggest funding boost for our city's young people in years.
"HeadStart has given hundreds of young people the opportunity to have their say, and in some cases has changed their lives. I can't wait to see this funding put to great use for the benefit of Wolverhampton's amazing younger generation."
Lyn Cole, Big Lottery Fund England grant-making director, said: “Mental health issues in early teens, if not tackled early, can develop into more serious conditions, impacting on school results and opportunities later on in life.
“HeadStart has been developed with young people to ensure that mental health is embedded in a school’s culture and pupils’ emotional welfare is recognised as fundamental to their overall achievement. This will raise awareness, tackle stigma and enable young people to seek the support they need when they have problems and are under stress.
“This funding will make a huge difference to the development of young people in Wolverhampton at a crucial time in their lives.”
Over the coming weeks the council will carry out detailed planning for the implementation of phase three of the HeadStart programme, with the first activities due to commence in January 2017.
It will see HeadStart work in schools, with families, community groups and charities to help young people with emotional issues know where to get support, and raise awareness of the importance of mental health so that adults know how to spot the early signs of problems in young people, understand what support they can give themselves, and know where to turn for more specialised help.
The council will also be working build a consortium of voluntary sector organisations which will help provide the new services, and developing four community based "hubs" from which they will be delivered.
It is expected that, by 2018, up to 20,000 young people to be accessing HeadStart's digital, city-wide offer of information and support, with up to 8,000 young people aged 10-16 receiving training and support in schools.
Some 600 children aged between 10 and 12 will also be receiving more in-depth support through HeadStart programmes, mental health services and the city’s Strengthening Families Hubs.
Councillor Gibson added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the HeadStart programme so far, including the teachers, community organisations and young people themselves, and particularly programme manager Kevin Pace and his team – their efforts have been rewarded with this vote of confidence from the Big Lottery Fund.”
For more information about HeadStart, please visit www.headstart.fm or follow on Twitter at @headstartfm.
1/ For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Paul Brown, Communications Advisor, on 01902 555497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2/ The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.
Issued by the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Corporate Communications Team. For more information, please call 01902 555439.