Blackpool FC Community Trust support children's mental health

Blackpool FC Community Trust continue to support the mental health of Young people thanks to support from EFL Trust

The ‘Headstart’ programme is a 1:1 and small group mentoring programme funded though the EFL Trust and NHS Charities Together, to provide mental health support for Year 6 and 7 pupils, to help reduce strains on the NHS.

The Headstart programme will act as an outlet for pupils identified by the school or through our Year 6 PSHE programme Unstoppable.

Blackpool FC Community Trust (BFCCT) have been awarded funding along with six other Club Community Organisations across Lancashire to support children with their mental health and wellbeing, as they are faced with age related mental health challenges and transition to high school. The Community Trust will work closely with local primary schools, their pupils and families through a dedicated Mental Health Transformation Officer, to provide tailored support which will guild pupils though coping mechanisms and strategies to help combat  anxieties and stress and develop self-awareness, and promote self-care.

The children who have been highlighted for the programme could potentially already be in contact with other agencies such as CAMHS or have poor mental health due to their exposure to multiple adverse childhood situations (ACE’s). With the aim being to reduce the number of NHS referral required and hope to help reduce wait times for children who are in need of the support.

We are aiming to work with the schools to complete 1:1 mentoring with a select number of students in each cohort, as well as undertaking whole class and small group sessions to tailor the support available. This then allows us to maximise the capacity for support. Headstart will run in school until the end of the academic year, then continue in various formats across the 6-week summer holidays including check ins over our summer sports camps. From there, as they progress on to year 7, the Mental Health Transformation Officer will work with the Community Trust High School Hub Mentors to provide additional support to these students as they make their transition in high schools.

Programmes like Headstart have been accelerated after the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, raised concerns of the increasing rate of mental disorder in children. In 2020, one in six (16%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017.  This has been further impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen waiting lists to access mental health services soar.

Adrian Bradley, Head of Health & Wellbeing at the EFL Trust, said:

“We are delighted to be delivering Headstart and in doing so are directly supporting the mental health of primary school children and their transition into secondary school. We hope that through Headstart we can intervene earlier and make a longer lasting positive impact on children’s lives and their wellbeing.

Our Club Community Organisations are well connected within the community, and health projects like Headstart can help us address local needs and achieve the EFL Trust’s vision of stronger, healthier, more active communities.”

­­­­­­­­­Marc Joseph Head of Early Years and Primary Programmes (BFCCT), said:

“Having worked with Blackpool primary schools for the last 13 years I have seen a dramatic increase in the need to support pupils mental health. Programmes like Headstart and Unstoppable will hopefully provide a structured approach and strategies for children to understanding the importance of positive mental health habits and the power of self-care.