Project Future

Project Future is a coproduced holistic well-being and mental health service that is community-based and works with young people and families who have experience in the criminal justice system (CJS).

We spoke to Dr. Hannah Stringer, Clinical Psychologist/ Project Lead at Project Future (PF), about their work supporting young men and children in Haringey, London.

PF was initially set up to work with young men in Haringey aged 16-25 involved in offending, specifically those affected by serious youth violence or labelled ‘gang-affiliated’. The team consists of Clinical Psychologists, Specialist Youth Workers, Education/Employment specialists, and local young people employed as Community Consultants who work together to implement bespoke interventions and provide services and support during crisis points. By being co-produced with the young men themselves, PF takes a unique approach to reduce marginalisation and offending whilst working to improve young people’s wellbeing, stability, access to services, education, and employment and training opportunities.

ABOUT PROJECT FUTURE

MAC-UK INTEGRATE approach

PF drew on MAC-UK’s INTEGRATE approach which harnesses the power of young people to contribute to solutions whilst offering mental health and wellbeing support. They undertake peer research that aims to influence how services support young people. For example, young people previously curated an art exhibition that featured critical components of their interactions and experiences of the CJS and how broader contexts interact with this.

Social action

Such research is also supported by social action work which works to create systematic change through training sessions, consultations, and local/national meetings. By hearing the voices of young people, professionals’ perceptions can be altered.

Tackling a lack of trust 

As young people have expressed that current systems do not always support them in implementing change, PF provides support during every stage of an individual’s journey through the CJS. For example, they help support young people with their interactions in court and throughout custodial sentences, as well as working with the different systems around young people, including both the community and wider services. Working across multiple levels highlights that agencies need to work together to address the multi-level risk factors to bring about sustainable change. Subsequently, the project also operates a peer-referral approach which encourages individuals to seek help after witnessing their friends accessing support.

A DEVELOPING INNOVATION

PF prides itself on being a partnership project. Initially set up between Haringey Council, Barnet, Enfield & Haringey NHS Mental Health Trust, and MAC-UK (2016-2019), as the project moved into its second phase (2019) Mind in Haringey transitioned to become the new charity partner. All of the partners have been heavily involved in overseeing the running of the project and sit on the operational and strategic management boards. Accordingly, the project draws on different resources in this network and enables young people to access services they previously had not.

During this second phase between 2019-2021, Project Future expanded into a hub and spoke model. Alongside the PF hub (16-25YO), the project extended its reach to work with a younger cohort of 11-16-year-olds. This was achieved through embedding a clinical psychologist and assistant psychologist into a local youth centre. Underpinned by the main tenets of the PF approach, and valuing the existing expertise in the local community, PF clinicians worked in collaboration with young people and youth centre staff to coproduce a psychologically informed early intervention and prevention arm of the project.

THE NEXT TWO YEARS

Moving forward, after a successful bid to partake in NHSE’s London Vanguard, Barnet Enfield and Haringey NHS Mental Health Trust and NCL ICS have been included as part of a pilot initiative. With a focus on 0-25-year-olds at risk of or affected by youth violence and their families, the pilot builds upon PF’s existing best practices as well as supports the development of new practices within the ICS that align with the Community Multi-Systems Violence Reduction Programme (CMSVRP) - utilising a prevention, intervention, and case management approach. It will also build on existing partnerships set up with BEH NHS MHT (Haringey Council, voluntary sector providers (e.g. Open Door, Mind in Haringey, and St Giles), and Met Police initiatives. Additionally, the PF hub will share best practices and support other pilot sites across Enfield, Barnet, Camden, and Islington.

PF will provide support during this pilot in Haringey in four formats:

  1. Continuation of the community hub for young people aged 16-26-year-olds in which they can drop in for help or participate in wellbeing-enhancing activities. This continues to operate as a peer-referral service.
  2. Engaging young people within the CJS and offering support in the community or prison in-reach support. Referrals are accepted from other professionals for 10-25-year-olds.
  3. Embedding practitioners into other local organisations (e.g. Youth centres, children’s homes, and pupil referral units, etc.) to offer early intervention and preventive support for 10-26-year-olds and parents/families.
  4. Providing clinical consultation and reflective spaces for staff in other linked services (e.g. Youth Offending, PRUs, Early Help, etc.) to incorporate psychological and trauma-informed approaches.

The success of the pilot over the next two years will be measured through improved outcomes across social, emotional, and occupational spheres for young people and families, in addition to increased community empowerment, enhanced community cohesiveness (on the ground and at an organisational level), and staff teams that effectively innovate and share best practices.

To learn more about Project Future, please contact hannah.stringer3@nhs.net or isabelle.cullis1@nhs.net.

 

This case study was compiled by Jaskirat Mann in 2018 and updated by Maysa Clam in 2022

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