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There is a strong correlation between children and young people who are identified as being in need, looked after, on protection orders, known to youth justice or at risk of school exclusion and subsequent escalation to CAMHS services or safeguarding. 

At present there are approximately 2,300 children and young people who fall into these categories within the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. Of those 2,300, approximately 1,700 are 12-18 years old.

LifeLine will work with 750 of these young people over a three year period and will work closely with existing local community and youth groups as well as safeguarding hubs and CAMHS to support them.
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A new way: Partnering with health services to solve poor mental health in young people

Many of the young people LifeLine work with have been deeply affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) - or trauma. A growing body of research has identified the harmful effects that such experiences occurring during childhood, or teenage years (for example among others, exposure to domestic violence, or substance abuse or household mental illness) have on lifetime health. Individuals who have ACEs also tend to have more physical and mental health issues as adults than those who don't and also tend to have a shorter life expectancy*.

We work with young people who have lost friends because of gang violence; others have witnessed friends or family being attacked or stabbed. We work with victims of sexual abuse and others who have been exploited and consequently become involved in risky behaviour. Some live with parents with mental health issues or addiction. Some act as de facto carers to their parents and siblings. Many have witnessed domestic abuse within the family...

Here in East London, we have some of the highest rates of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation in the capital. The recent spike in knife crime has been well documented.

Finding solutions

We can only hope to start to address some of these deep seated issues once we gain the trust of our young people. And that's where partnership is crucial.

VIP mentoring was co-designed with young people and, as a result, 97% recommend it to their peers. The young people consistently tell us that they want - need - more support, particularly when it comes to questions of mental health and the social and emotional pressures they face. They ask us for more activities, especially within their own communities.

What's often missing for young people are trusted adults: a supportive adult or group of friends that can be relied upon over a sustained period when facing challenges in their lives. But trusted relationships that encourage positive self-esteem, resilience and growth take time to flourish. This simple truth often gets overlooked when systems and professionals are facing increasing pressure to deliver results NOW.

School-based mentoring

And that's where LifeLine's expanded VIP (Vision, Identity, Purpose) mentoring programme comes in. You could call it the return of the aunties and uncles who live just down the road. 

The approach will be trauma-informed and focus on coping with transition and life-changing events that affect long-term health and life choices (50% of all mental health conditions are established before the age of 14). A programme of positive activities, community and youth groups will be supported with joint training and  guidance from our expert team. 

The scheme will be launched in autumn 2019 thanks to funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups across Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering. It will work with young people across the East London Boroughs who are either children in need, looked after, on a protection order, known to youth justice, or at risk of school exclusion.
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