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Case study: HeadStart Programme to support young people's mental health

Client: The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF)


Date: 2015-2018

Challenges faced by the client:


Children’s mental health and wellbeing is a pressing issue: according to ONS estimates, one in ten children and young people between the ages of five and 16 have or have had a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder. Growing numbers of young people are presenting with complex problems and too many are not getting the help they need.


In response to this challenge, TNLCF established the HeadStart programme to focus on the mental wellbeing of at-risk 10-16 year olds by investing £75m in locally-based partnerships. Unsurprisingly, there was already wide range of organisations and programmes seeking to address different parts of this issue. TNLCF required support to ensure its programme was well-planned, managed and had the greatest impact possible


Support offered:


Mutual Ventures supported TNLCF to deliver the HeadStart programme over a period of 2-3 years and build innovative cross-sector partnerships to address the emotional wellbeing of young people, and create the conditions for sustainable change. Our work was undertaken in partnership with Deloitte LLP.


Acting as a trusted advisor to the core team, our work involved advising on programme design, coaching grantees, and supporting TNLCF to manage grantee relationships. We worked alongside subject matter experts from Young Minds and the Anna Freud Centre, adding strategic advice, facilitation and relationship-building support in local areas including Cornwall, Hull, Lewisham, Wolvehampton and Birmingham.


Our support included:

  • Coaching to individual areas to develop, test and finalise their three-year plans for partnership activities

  • Expertise advice on business planning and developing financial models

  • Facilitation of partnerships including local government, the NHS, and the local voluntary sector

  • Programme-wide learning events to share lessons and expertise


Outcomes achieved:


HeadStart has created strong partnerships within local areas and a multi-disciplinary, approach to preventing and addressing young people's mental health issues.


Key achievements of the programme included

  • successful working with schools to build the profile of the issue and help them develop a tailored approach to young people’s mental health and wellbeing

  • giving practitioners the skills, knowledge and confidence to support young people

  • working collaboratively to encourage systems and policy change in our local areas.

You can read more about the HeadStart Programme on TNLCF's website here.

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