Headlines: February 12th, 2001

A joint project between a healthcare charity and a London borough will try to improve the lot of the 50,000 children in the UK who are in care.One of the biggest problems faced by these young people is leaving care – many experience mental health problems and as many as 40 per cent try to take their own life at this point in their lives.

One of the contributory factors is that many care leavers do not know how to use the NHS or do not find health services helpful. Care leavers also comprise one quarter of young homeless people.

The King’s Fund is providing a two-year grant of ?70,000 to the London Borough of Lewisham to work with South London and the Maudsley NHS Trust, the Children’s Society and First Key, to improve the mental health of young care leavers.

Building on research already carried out by Lewisham council, the project will tackle some of the problems identified by young people by providing counselling and personal development programmes in connection with existing mental health services.

The strength of the programme lies in maintaining an involvement with the young care leavers, who will support each other as part of the project.