Now looking at a second round of funding, consultations with local grassroots organisations from across the county are being undertaken. This open, needs-focused approach will ensure that funding is directed to where it is most needed. Young people are at the heart of this process, with their thoughts, opinions and ideas informing action. During the pandemic, 11 to 25-year-olds in the East of England reported a marked rise in concerns about domestic abuse, child abuse, eating issues and struggles with body image. They also showed the greatest increase nationally in sadness, and in anxiety about returning to school or college, and the highest rates of young people with autism or Asperger’s seeking support. By chairing every meeting of the Coalition himself whilst utilising his knowledge and experience to benefit grassroots organisations, Sir Norman has kept in touch with local groups, allowing him to promote genuine local interest.
The Coalition has enabled these smaller organisations to amplify their voices and showcase their work, giving them a stronger voice in countywide and national discussions. Too often, the efforts of these smaller groups are overlooked – even though they are often the ones who deliver the most impactful projects. Nationally, around 10% of children and young people have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of them have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.1 It is through these grassroots groups that early intervention into young people’s mental health can happen. Member organisations have benefitted from the network of mutual support offered by the Coalition, as well as equal access to opportunities for funding and professional development that help to raise standards across the board. Since April 2021, 65% of members have benefitted from funds or training. Training sessions so far have included “Setting up a Peer Support Programme” and “Keeping Children Safe Online”.