A new programme that involves children and professionals from a range of public bodies who have contact with children and young people is being rolled out across the South of England in a drive to improve children’s mental health services, NHS England (South East) has announced.

Around 6,000 members of staff working in the NHS, police, schools, and local authority children’s services will take part in the programme over the next 12 months. Brighter Futures for Children is taking part in the programme.

Importantly, children and young people will also take part, as part of an approach known as restorative practice which brings different groups of people together. They will work with the professionals to continue to improve, or in some cases, re-design, children’s mental health services across the South of England.

Antony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said: ‘We’re delighted to be part of this initiative. Listening to children and young people and, more importantly, hearing what they say is essential if we’re going to improve what we offer. Co-designing this service is a  great start.’

Designed as a way to bring different parties to work together, the restorative approach is based on research carried out it New Zealand and has been imported to the UK with great success. It is thought to be the first time that it is being deployed at such a scale in England.

Sally Rickard, Deputy Director Clinical Networks and Senate said: “The restorative approach has proven to be highly successful in the past and is already being used nationally to tackle other issues. We believe it has great potential to improve children’s mental health which has been set as one of the priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan. This collaborative approach to work can bring us together and make tremendous improvements in the way we help our younger population.”