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  • Category: Education, Health and Wellbeing, Mental Health

Quality Mark Logo All 3 LevelsOrganisation: Wrexham County Borough Council

Project: Inspire

Contact: Sara Tompkin

The aim of the project is to support young people aged 11-18 who engage in self-harming behaviour with the aim of reducing readmission rates to hospital for self-harming behaviours.

There are different elements to Inspire including:

-one to one support for young people who are referred into the project. This holistic support is based on voluntary engagement, and is led by what each young person feels would help them at that time. Sessions take place at a venue of the young person’s choice and can include work on confidence and self-esteem, coping strategies/alternatives to self-harm, resilience, managing emotions, exposure work to e.g. public transport or café’s, introduction to hobbies and interests, support with education, training and employment, and signposting to more specialist services among other things.

-Wards – Inspire visit hospital wards each day to support any young people aged 11-18 who have been admitted offering them generic support, signposting and resources to borrow during their stay.

-Youth clubs -Inspire run 2 youth clubs for young people who have engaged in one to one support and who would benefit from group work. One is a generic youth club and the other, named Inspire pride by the young people is for young people who identify as LGBTQ+. The youth clubs assist young people in developing social skills, reducing social isolation and give opportunities to develop friendships while engaging in activities in a supportive environment.

-Diversionary activities are offered to young people who have engaged in one to one support and who are appropriate for and would benefit from groups. They are a variety of activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, cinema, football, and a variety of other trips. They give young people a sense of achievement and are an opportunity to develop social opportunities while experiencing activities that they may not otherwise have the chance to do.

-Education sessions-Inspire deliver universal education sessions to schools and youth groups on emotional health and wellbeing, body image and self-esteem and coping with stress. Inspire also deliver targeted groups when required focused on identified needs.

All young people consent to be referred to Inspire for one to one support and to engage in any activities within it. Young people are regularly consulted on what support they would like with identifying and reviewing goals during one to one work, which diversionary activities they would like, the content of youth club sessions and on the general running of the project. All young people are asked to complete evaluations for their one to one support and also for education sessions. Feedback on these then informs future support.

An example includes Inspire pride – it was identified that Inspire were supporting increasing numbers of young people who were identifying as LGBTQ+, and some of them wished to know who else felt like them. Workers were unable to tell them due to confidentiality but a separate youth club for LGBTQ+ young people was suggested which they said they would like. The young people then named this Inspire pride, which has been online during Covid and will move to face to face as soon as possible. The young people decide on the content of the sessions through consultations, and the progress of some of the young people since attending Inspire pride has been inspirational.

The nature of the voluntary engagement and the relationship between the young person and the youth worker has proved essential. The workers are able to develop very effective professional relationships with young people very quickly, making them feel at ease even when they may have previously struggled to engage with other agencies. By the work being led by the young people this empowers them, making them feel in control, with informal sessions being led by each young person’s needs and wishes.

Learning from the Inspire model over the years, the value of youth work in health settings has been recognised widely, and in 2017, the paediatric diabetic team bought in 8 hours a week of an Inspire worker to support young people who are miss-managing or struggling with their diabetes and other areas of their life.

More recently, in 2019, Inspire were approached by Flintshire county council and commissioned by them to expand Inspire provision into Flintshire. This has been a great success and continues to grow, with many young people having benefitted from this support.

Due to Inspires ongoing success, Inspire are now in the process of expanding into further health settings such as into CAMHS to support young people transitioning to adult mental health as this has been highlighted as a need through partnership work. In addition, the work with young people who have diabetes has been so successful that Inspire have recently been approached about the possibility of having a youth worker within the adult diabetes department working with older young people with diabetes.

Through engagement with one to one support and group activities such as youth clubs and diversionary activities this reduces Young people’s social isolation, increases confidence and self-esteem, gives young people a sense of achievement, assists them to develop their social skills and helps them to develop helpful coping strategies / alternatives to self-harm. Young people are able to learn about and address their anxieties around situations that they find difficult, and those which may restrict their contact with peers, education or in the community such as on public transport or in community venues such as café’s. By engaging in support this helps young people to engage better with education and has shown to increase attendance and improve behaviour. Young people are able to learn ways to cope and to build their resilience with skills they can use throughout their life. Many young people have also reported improved relationships with family and friends, improved mood and general health and wellbeing, greater awareness of and engagement with other services and reduced self-harm.

Organisation -The organisation has benefitted through developing a very strong partnership with CAMHS which has now led to the development of a youth work post to be based within CAMHS to support young people’s transition to adult services.

Staff -The Inspire staff speak of having a very rewarding and varied job, supporting many young people on their journey, seeing them progress and reach their potential. Staff are able to develop their skills and experience around many areas, in particular mental health by working within such a specialist area of youth work.

Volunteers – some young people who have been involved in Inspire have gone on to volunteer with the project giving them excellent experience. Following this they have progressed, with some now being youth workers themselves, police officers, social workers and other valued roles. There are also a couple of members of Inspire staff who started as volunteers with the project.

Over the past couple of years it has been identified that Inspire have been supporting increasing numbers of young people who identify as LGBTQ+. Sometimes this is specified at point of referral where as other young people disclose this to their Inspire worker. This led to the development of the Inspire pride youth club.

Inspire started in 2006, going live in 2007, with initial funding from the big lottery fund. The project is now funded by a number of different grants and has grown significantly over the years.

Inspire continues on an ongoing basis with all elements of the project. In 2017 Inspire expanded into the paediatric diabetic department and in 2019 Inspire expanded to cover the Flintshire area as well as Wrexham. Inspire is now in the process of expanding into CAMHS and possibly adult diabetic services as well.

Inspire are regularly sharing information and experience with regional partners and supporting them to explore and develop hospital based youth work.

For more information email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01978 726002

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