For the past few years, we have been working with our friends across the sector on the Fund the Hubs campaign. Along with Centre for Mental Health, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Mind, Youth Access, The Children’s Society, Young Minds and Black Thrive, we have been calling for a network of early support hubs across the country which would provide young people somewhere to go when they first start to struggle with their mental health.

In this blog, we share more about the early support hub model and reflect on our campaign successes.

What are early support hubs?

An early support hub is a mental health and wellbeing hub that provide open access, flexible, early support for young people under 25 in their communities on a drop-in basis. Services of this kind provide a holistic offer of advice and support for mental health and wellbeing, and related issues including but not limited to sexual health, education, housing, and employment. Early support hubs can reduce pressures on the NHS and improve young people’s life chances by providing a community space to access flexible and holistic support for emotional wellbeing.

A few weeks ago, we visited The Hive, a mental health support hub in Camden. The hub provides various avenues of support to children aged 16-24 living in or with any connection to Camden. The support offered includes help and advice on mental health, health and wellbeing, sexual health, personal development, and career support, as well as a drop in social hub. The social hub offers free activities and workshops including but not limited to drama, running and yoga as well as a daily food bank, spaces to study and just chat.

You can learn more about The Hive by watching our TikTok or by checking out their website.

So, what have we achieved?

We have been working hard with our campaign partners to ensure there is consistent long- term funding to enable the full national rollout of early support hubs in every local area.

We have had far reaching support for the campaign. For example, in their 2021 inquiry into children’s mental health,  the Health and Social Care Select recommended a national roll out of early support hubs, the Children’s Commissioner for England has also backed the established of a network of community mental health hubs for children and young people as part of their The Big Ask, The Big Answer report.

Last month, Young Minds and Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George handed in a letter at Downing Street co-signed by 15,000 people urging the Government to commit to funding early support hubs in every community in the Spring Budget.

Positively, this year, the government announced a total of £8 million to support 24 existing early support hubs to expand their provision, meaning more young people can access early support with their mental health.. There is also cross-party support for hubs with both Labour and Lib Dems committed to rolling out early support hubs if they were to form the next government following the general election.

Looking ahead

As we look ahead to the general election, we will be campaigning to make sure that all political parties make a commitment to improving the mental health outcomes for all babies, children, and young people. As part of our four manifesto asks, we are calling the next Government to increase the provision of early intervention support in the community through investing in a national network of early support hubs in every local area. We hope for this to be part of a comprehensive package of support for children and young people’s mental health.

Thousands of children and young people are struggling with poor mental health and are prevented from accessing the support that they need and deserve that’s why we need to see early support hubs in every local area to begin to support the drastically increasing need we are seeing today. #FundtheHubs

Author: Zainab Shafhan-Azhar