Southwark Council has become the first council to pledge its support to Fund the Hubs, a national campaign for early mental health support for children and young people.
The council joins Stephen Fry, Dr Alex George and Sir Norman Lamb to call on the government to fund a network of early support hubs across the country.
Such hubs would provide young people with mental health support when their problems first emerge, before they hit crisis point.
A coalition of mental health and children's charities is behind the campaign, including the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, the Children’s Society, Mind and YoungMinds respectively.
Early support hubs already exist in some areas and the campaign wants to build on these successful examples to expand the hubs nationwide and strengthen those that already exist, including The Nest in Southwark.
Southwark Council said that The Nest demonstrates the power of early support hubs to respond to local needs.
Two in three of their referrals are from young people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds, which maps onto the demographic of Southwark's young people as a whole.
Trust plays a major role in its success, with the majority of referrals to the hub coming from young people themselves.
Statistics show that of the young people accessing support through The Nest:
- 66% feel more confident.
- 73% feel happier.
- 78% feel they have an increased sense of wellbeing.
Southwark Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, Councillor Jasmine Ali said:
"We are backing Fund the Hubs because we have first-hand experience of the difference early support hubs make to a young person’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
"Children and young people continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s devastating impact on mental health. They deserve to get support as soon as they need it, on demand, without a referral or long wait. We have accepted nothing less for those in our borough.
"We are incredibly proud of The Nest as a trusted early support hub. We are acting as early as possible to meet the mental health needs of all our children and young people. But our ambition and that of our fellow Fund the Hub campaigners needs to be met by consistent, long-term funding from government."
In 2018, Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group and the council undertook a review of mental health services for children and young people aged 0-25 in the borough.
This highlighted a gap for those who need extra support for their mental health and emotional wellbeing, but do not meet the criteria for more specialist services.
The review also showed that mental ill health was more prevalent among Southwark’s young people than the national average.
In response, Southwark Council consulted with young people and parents to develop The Nest as a free drop-in mental wellbeing advice and support hub.
The service is a key component of the authority’s commitment that 100% of children and young people have access to mental health support, with Southwark being the first council to make such a commitment.
The Nest is funded by Southwark Council and delivered by the charity Groundwork London.
It was anticipated that The Nest would open in May 2020, but this was quickly adapted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and launched initially as a remote service instead.
Since then, the team has delivered over 1,700 hours of support.
The centre opened physically last summer and now offers face-to-face drop-in sessions for those aged 0-25 and parents/carers.
Despite only being in its second year, The Nest is expanding further and in August, the council approved £200,000 to take the mental health service into schools.
The Nest recruited a dedicated team to deliver a package of mental support directly to students, their families and teachers.
Manager at The Nest, Hannah Kashman added:
“We're delighted that our funder, Southwark Council, is backing the Fund the Hubs campaign.
“We hope that their support will encourage other councils to follow suit in a bid to ensure that there are more open access services like The Nest for children, young people and their families across the country.”