August 2014 saw Hull become one of only 12 areas in the United Kingdom to receive £500,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Fund to pilot a new emotional wellbeing project named HeadStart. Aimed at 10 – 14 year olds, HeadStart Hull has successfully offered emotional health support and intervention in 13 schools across Hull for the past year.
Emma Latimer, NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Chief Officer said: “HeadStart Hull forms an integral part of our ambition to give the next generation the best possible start in life. We want young people in our city to be active and confident, and have the emotional resilience needed to deal with the issues they face.”
“We’re impressed with the difference HeadStart Hull has made so far. We know that young people in today’s society have a lot to contend with, that’s why we’re committed to continuing to work with our partners to deliver HeadStart as widely as possible, in schools, online and in the community.”
The project, which involves a number of partners across the city including the CCG and Hull City Council, has developed a variety of approaches in schools and the wider community aimed at building young people’s confidence and improving their emotional wellbeing and ability to cope with the pressures of modern life.
School based intervention groups, known in schools as SMASH, social media campaigning, peer mentoring, mindfulness training, involvement in Lifestyle and working with young people on emotional health resources have formed just part of the work undertaken in the first year of HeadStart, with further development planned for the next year of the pilot.
Alison Taylor, Assistant Headteacher at Newland School for Girls, one of the HeadStart Hull schools said: “The work which has been achieved this year is without doubt much needed and very valuable; without HeadStart Hull and SMASH our year 7 and 9 pupils would not have half as much confidence and resilience to tackle their teenage years as they do now.”
“The girls have also enjoyed being involved in the digital work which HeadStart Hull is developing to support young people in the future, such as the YouTube videos and social media.”
Cllr Helena Spencer, portfolio holder for Public Health, said: “This is a project which has made – and will continue to make – a real difference to young people in Hull. One of the things we want to achieve through HeadStart is to better equip young people to deal with the range of emotional issues they might face in school and their personal lives.”
“The work carried out through this project helps pupils understand that it is normal for all of us to struggle with our emotional wellbeing at some point, but that it’s ok to talk about it and that there is a range of support which they can access if they need to.”
“Emotional and mental health is a fundamental part of overall wellbeing and it is fantastic that Hull has a project which addresses this with young people.”
The beginning of the new school term in September will see HeadStart Hull continue with the pilot stage, due to finish in July 2016, with the possibility of additional investment from the Big Lottery for the next five years.