We were pleased to welcome Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, into our school on 14th February 2023 to visit ‘The Early Help Youth Hub’; a pilot-project, which has supported hundreds of children across Newcastle and North Tyneside, in a unique partnership between Gosforth Group Multi Academy Trust and charity Streetwise.
The Early Help Youth Hub aims to provide independent ‘wrap around’ mental health and emotional wellbeing support for students within a school environment and is delivered and staffed by Streetwise, a regional charity providing essential support services for young people aged between 11-25 years.
The project hosts weekly group work activities and offers open access drop-in sessions which have provided students with a safe space to share their concerns, worries and anxieties, helping them with increased confidence and self-care whilst reducing risks, exam distress, social anxiety and family worries.
Students are sign-posted by staff to the Streetwise team, but the Hub also runs an open-door policy offering young people the opportunity to drop-in during break times and after school.
The joint project was created to strengthen and enhance a positive learning environment in schools, and works in partnership with students, staff, parents/carers and other stakeholders. It is the first of its kind in schools and within the first 10 months of operation, the Hubs had over 6,471 contacts with students across both Jesmond Park Academy and North Gosforth Academy.
An evaluation of the project is being completed by Northumbria University which will evidence impact and outcomes, including how reductions to statutory CAMHS services makes a difference in the lives of young people attending the schools/academies in question and will be produced later this year. It is hoped that following this pilot with Gosforth Group, this project could be developed further and potentially rolled out to other schools across the region.
Speaking about the visit, Kim McGuinness said “When I speak to young people about the support they’d like more of, it’s everything that is being done here so I know just how appreciated and valued this project will be by those involved. Support services like Sure Start Centres and Connexions advice have been stripped back from our communities and this has increased the pressures on school staff to fill that void. Combine that with further cuts to frontline services and long waiting times, young people are not getting the support they rightly should have access to. This project is directly stepping in and making sure young people get the advice & help that they need, when they need it. This will improve social and educational outcomes, prevent crime and improve opportunities for this benefiting from this work.”
Steve Campbell, Principal of Jesmond Park Academy, “As a school, and across the Trust, we are very much focused on the wellbeing of our students. We understand the effects the Covid pandemic has had on our students’ mental health over the last couple of years and we strive to go the extra mile to ensure our students feel supported and know what help is available to them. We were delighted to be the first school to champion this new project with Streetwise and see this ‘wrap around’ care as an essential programme to provide additional and specialist support to our students who may need it. We want to ensure that all of our students can confidently come into school and feel they can give 100% of their focus to their learning and get the most out of their education with us.”
Mandy Coppin, Chief Executive of Streetwise, “Working in partnership with our local schools to ensure our young people have full access to early intervention and preventative ‘wrap around’ wellbeing support services is essential in helping to identify and prevent issues and concerns escalating and impacting negatively on their lives. For many young people our services have helped them to reconnect with education, friends, families and themselves, in ways that aid learning, identify choices, build confidence and reduce risks. We are extremely grateful to Steve Campbell and the Gosforth Group for believing in this model and for creating opportunities for us all to learn together to create safe and credible opportunities for our young people. We are able to measure the impact of providing Early Help Youth Hubs in our schools and hope to replicate the model within other schools throughout the region. We welcome the Police Crime Commissioner visit, to showcase these results to demonstrate the importance of providing early interventions for our young people, especially is helping to steer any young people away from risk taking activities”.