A unique project to help young people in Wolverhampton cope with the trials and tribulations of modern life has moved into new offices in the city. Last year, the City of Wolverhampton Council was given £500,000 by The Big Lottery Fund to establish a series of pilot HeadStart projects which would test different ways of improving the mental health, well-being and resilience of 10 to 16-year-olds and giving them the best chance to do well at school and in life.
HeadStart Wolverhampton will use its new Shaw Road base to work with young people to develop grass roots programmes delivered in schools and in the community.
After a successful first year, the council has now received funding for a further 12 months. If the pilot projects currently underway can continue to demonstrate they are delivering positive outcomes for young people, Wolverhampton could be in line for funding for a further five years from The Big Lottery Fund.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, cut the ribbon to open HeadStart's new base and said: "The HeadStart programme has a hugely important role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our young people.
"We estimate there are thousands of 10 to 16-year-olds in Wolverhampton at risk of poor mental health because of issues like deprivation, poverty, bullying, low self-esteem and substance misuse.
HeadStart is all about supporting them before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil which may affect them throughout their lives.
Too few young people who need treatment for mental health problems actually receive it. We want to change that and ensure that the help and support is out there, and that young people feel able to ask for it.
We will also be helping them to develop strategies to cope with any challenges they may face at home or at school.
HeadStart's new base is an ideal place for young people to meet with members of the HeadStart team or other education and health professionals to discuss, plan and create resources for a range of activities.
I am looking forward to seeing the results of the various projects which are already taking place and other projects that are in the pipeline. I hope that we can demonstrate the positive impact they are having so that we can secure additional funding to extend the programme."
Over the last few months, a series of programmes have been launched across the city, with HeadStart working with voluntary and community organisations to provide support to young people and their families, ranging from peer mentoring and training to online information through websites and via social media. Special resilience lessons are also being held in a number of schools.