A NEW project that will support the emotional health and wellbeing of Wigan Borough’s children in care, care leavers and foster carers has been announced by the council.

'Our Safe Space' sees the local authority work alongside health partners and Meadows Psychology Service, a team of professionals specialising in mental health support.

Staff who work with cared for children will also benefit from the new service.

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Councillor Laura Flynn, lead cabinet member for youth opportunities, said:
“Children who are in care and young people who have been in care have often had to overcome significant adverse childhood experiences and the impact of this could lead to longer-lasting emotional trauma if the right support isn’t provided.

“In Wigan Borough, we want to make sure that the right support is offered at the right time so that children can go on to have good mental health and form healthy relationships.”

The name 'Our Safe Space' was chosen by children who are currently in care and care leavers. A group of young people and foster carers have been involved in the development of the project to make sure it will offer the right sort of support.

Their involvement will continue as the partnership progresses, to help review the work and check that the service is continuing to meet their needs.

Coun Flynn added: “We value our community of fantastic foster carers and social care staff and know how vital they are to our cared for children, providing them with stable home environments and support in all areas of their lives.

“We know that being a foster carer, or working in social care, can sometimes be challenging, so we wanted to extend this offer of emotional health and wellbeing support to staff and foster carers too, to help them to continue to offer that strength and stability to the children.

“It’s fantastic to launch this new project in Wigan Borough and I’m really looking forward to seeing the difference it will make to children, young people, foster carers and staff.”

The project has been funded by Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Our Safe Space will offer support including:

  • Psychological consultations for anyone looking after Wigan Borough’s care experienced children - a space to explore any difficulties and presenting worries
  • Support at the care leavers’ hub (a centre run by Wigan Council for local care leavers). The Meadows Psychology Service will be based there fortnightly to support staff who work with care leavers and offer individual help for young people as well as a group skills programme
  • A crisis response service for foster carers
  • Direct therapeutic intervention and support where needed
  • Training courses for foster carers

Dr Nicola Curran, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Meadows Psychology Service added: “Meadows Psychology Service is excited and proud to be working in partnership with Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to deliver Our Safe Space, the emotional health and wellbeing service for children in care and care leavers.

“Even in these early stages of delivering our commissioned project we have had such a positive experience of working with our Wigan colleagues, who have been open, collaborative and extremely passionate about supporting care experienced children and care leavers.

“We have developed a really innovative project which provides a variety of support services to children and the people looking after them.”