Case studies

Getting a HeadStart: Big Lottery Fund tackling mental health issues

Providing financial and planning advice to HeadStart as it seeks to improve the mental wellbeing and resilience of young people

One in ten people between the ages of five and sixteen will have a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder at some point in their childhood. Of these, up to 70 per cent will not have appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early stage.

To confront these worrying statistics Big Lottery Fund (the Fund), the biggest community funder in the UK, established the Fulfilling Lives: HeadStart programme. HeadStart aims to improve the mental wellbeing and resilience of young people, by giving them early support and the skills to cope with adversity. Building on the learnings from an initial phase of work with 12 partnerships across England, the Fund is investing up to a further £65 million over 5 years.

We were appointed by the Fund as delivery partner in October 2015 to work with each of the 12 local partnerships. We provided the partnerships with coaching and expertise to help them develop their programme strategies, giving them support on implementation and financial and sustainability plans ahead of a second round of funding.

The final funding decisions were announced in July 2016 and we are now supporting the next steps for each partnership – whether that’s helping them implement their programmes if they were successful in getting additional funding, or consolidating the learnings and exploring opportunities for next steps if not.

The approach adopted by the Fund for this programme differed from the way it traditionally engaged with potential grantees. Based on the feedback to date, we are confident that our involvement has strengthened the Fund’s ambition to improve the mental wellbeing for children and young people in the country.

“HeadStart is a fantastic way of providing vital support for those young people and more besides, helping them to overcome a difficult start to life. For many, strengthening their resilience will be the difference between them achieving, or risking a life lived on the margins of society. By breaking down barriers and supporting those who need it most, through this – the most innovative of programmes - we can only look forward to seeing the impact and improved outcomes for all.” Delyth Curtis, Director of People, Blackpool Council

“The outside challenge has been incredibly useful. Having your involvement as someone with knowledge and understanding of the Fund’s programme but who wasn’t initially involved in the detail of our project has been important in forcing us to take a step back and question some of our assumptions.”

Partnership Lead, Kent

Rather than incorporate every idea and doing everything for everyone you have supported us in being more focused and structured.

Partnership Lead, Newham.

2 ONS Mental Health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004

3 Children’s Society, 2008

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