Initiative to support young people in east London gets national spotlight

The ground-breaking work of an initiative that provides vital support to children and young people in east London has been presented to a parliamentary inquiry.

Health Spot offers friendly, confidential medical appointments with a GP experienced in supporting young people’s health needs and the option of additional help from youth workers and other specialists – in a community setting that removes barriers to under-18s attending.

Its work – and the crucial role played by young people themselves – came under the spotlight at a public inquiry into the role of public services in addressing child vulnerability.  

Dr Helen Jones, local clinical lead for children and young people’s mental health at NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, was invited to present partners’ findings. She pointed out that while there was a lot of interest in replicating Health Spot’s approach nationally, each aspect of Health Spot was commissioned separately, making it difficult to replicate at scale.

Dr Jones told the inquiry: “We started this with the hope that it could be replicated elsewhere locally and nationally. There is a lot of interest. However, currently there is no commissioning structure for an integrated cross-sector offer, which to my mind clearly reflects the fact that there is no single unifying national policy across sectors for vulnerable children and young people.

“The glue that holds us together is relationship, shared vision and the voice of the young people/ the duty we owe to them to meet them at their point of need. It has taken years of building relationships, lobbying and taking the voice of young people to commissioners and service leads in order to be where we are.”

Health Spot is an integrated holistic health hub, based at a youth centre (we are spotlight) established by a local housing association (Poplar HARCA) in Langdon Park, east London. The entire service is co-produced with young people and brings together a range of support and advice in a place where children and young people (CYP) feel safe and comfortable.

Asked about her wishlist to make Health Spot a reality for the wider population, Dr Jones told the inquiry there was a need for:

  • an emphasis on our legal duties to remove barriers to and promote equity in access– whether these be virtual access barriers to the front door of health (primary care) or ensuring CYP services are delivered in a place/space/time that are accessible/safe for CYP
  • provision to be holistic, integrated, wrapped around the YP with their voice central, on a needs basis rather than a diagnosis
  • the integrated offer to have shared outcomes across the providers that are meaningful for the CYP and families
  • centralised funding from a shared pot/ commissioned from a single source
  • an appealing/attractive service for children and young people
  • the service to be supported by someone like a youth worker
  • links with local assets that are already present – grassroots organisations with local knowledge who reflect the populations they are serving
  • the service to be supported by an appropriate training package

The inquiry is asking whether reforming public services can address the growing problem of child vulnerability and will cover how public services support mothers and families during pregnancy, and how they support children in their early years and school years.

To find out more about the inquiry or read the full transcript of Dr Jones’ presentation please visit: The role of public services in addressing child vulnerability – Committees – UK Parliament To find out more about Health Spot visit: https://www.eastlondonhcp.nhs.uk/ourplans/health-spot.htm

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