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Extra support for young people in Suffolk

Young people with learning disabilities who face difficulties in accessing school or work placements are now benefitting from bespoke education packages alongside targeted mental health support thanks to an exciting new initiative taking place in east Suffolk.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has been invited to work with training provider Lapwing to offer integrated mental health support and education packages to children and young people who have a significant learning disability and a mental health issue.

The initiative enables Lapwing to provide bespoke packages of education, training or employment to people up to the age of 18 who are not currently in mainstream or special school or have difficulties with accessing it, in turn building their confidence and self-esteem.

At the same time, specialists from NSFT’s Learning Disabilities Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (LD CAMHS) East and West Suffolk will work with the child or young person to address their mental health needs, offering support and helping them reintegrate with the community.

The year-long initiative has been made possible after Lapwing secured funding from the Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund. If the pilot is successful, it is hoped it will continue into future years, in turn helping both organisations to provide more integrated, joined-up services while bringing huge benefits to the children and young people involved.

Sam Gillings-Taylor, LD CAMHS Clinical Lead with NSFT, said: “I am delighted we have been selected to be part of this initiative, which is helping us strengthen the positive outcomes our service achieves using an integrated approach with education. We have worked with Lapwing on some very successful joint projects in the past, and being approached to work together again is a testament to the value of integrated working.

“This exciting project has given us a fantastic opportunity to provide person-centered support to service users who experience barriers to education as a result of their mental illness and learning disability. It is helping to build confidence and self-esteem within these young people while offering them care and support for their mental health needs.

“We work hard to develop a relationship with the service users so that we can understand their wishes, desires, fears, likes and dislikes, and can then put together a programme which offers them the right mix of education, support and encouragement to meet their needs. Our aim is to help them gradually reintegrate back into the community and, where possible into education.

“We have had some great success stories so far, and it has been fantastic to see the impact which the pilot has had on the service users. They can go from having an incredibly chronic, complex issue which restricts and isolates them to eventually returning to school or the community, which is brilliant for the individual and very rewarding for all of the staff involved in their care.”

Sophy Jones, Chief Executive of Lapwing, said: “At Lapwing Education we are constantly hearing about young people with severe learning disabilities and mental ill health being excluded from their community and from education due to their high support needs. This partnership is so exciting because, together with NSFT, we will allow some of the most marginalised young people in Suffolk to take their place in society.

“This education will support them to get out, be listened to, decide what they want to do and build the confidence to be able to participate and feel valued in their community.”

For more information about Lapwing, visit