Pioneering partnership helps homeless young people in Wales
- Published: Monday, 20 November 2017 12:11
- Written by Cardiff University
Llamau has been providing housing, education, training and support services to homeless young people and vulnerable women in Wales for more than 20 years and initiated the project after discovering research that had been undertaken by Dr Katherine Shelton, School of Psychology and Professor Marianne Van den Bree, School of Medicine, into the underlying risk factors for homelessness experiences among young people.
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant was awarded by Innovate UK, Welsh Government and the Economic and Social Research Council to help support the three-year project. Working in partnership, the researchers developed new screening techniques to help Llamau staff identify 'at risk' warning signs and deliver effective support services for young people.
KTP Associate Dr Kate Hodgson, who worked at the heart of Llamau and who managed the ground-breaking project, said: "The KTP offered me a unique experience: being able to conduct my PhD research whilst working closely with Llamau staff to embed the findings from the project across the organisation.”
Cardiff's researchers helped the charity improve its assessment and monitoring procedures and develop better staff training, and has underscored the importance of focusing on the mental health challenges that young people face in order to help them gain the skills to live independently and reach their potential.
Professor van den Bree said, "We developed a tool to establish the mental health needs of these vulnerable young people. Our study was unique because we followed participants over three years, enabling us to establish how mental health problems and risk of self-harm changed over time.”
The achievements were recognised with the Research Council UK Societal Benefit Award, UK Best of the Best Awards and the Social Innovation Award, Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards, both received in 2015.
Dr. Shelton said: “Collaborating with Llamau to translate our research into practice has been incredibly rewarding for the staff and students involved and has made a positive difference to the work of the charity. We plan to continue to work together to raise awareness of the mental health needs of vulnerable young people.”
Sam Austin, Operational Director & Deputy Chief Executive at Llamau, said: "Working with Cardiff University's researchers has helped us develop new ways of working which are resulting in real changes to the lives of the very vulnerable young people we work with. We are delighted to have been able to build such a strong and positive working relationship with the School of Psychology and Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, and we are planning ways to continue to work together in future”