LOCAL Primary Care Network (PCN) teams are celebrating after being recognised for supporting children and young people living with emotional wellbeing issues.

Keswick & Solway, Brampton & Longtown and Eden PCNs partnered with the charity Barnardo’s to engage with a group of children and young people to co-design the service. The flagship service has been named as regional winner in the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2022 and will go through to the national finals this summer.

The awards recognise the massive contribution made by individuals who work in and alongside the NHS. The LINK service offers a ‘non-medical’ solution, providing a holistic approach to managing issues faced by young people today – many of which have been heightened by the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also won the National Social Prescribing Children and Young People’s Award earlier this year.

Dr Richard Massey, clinical director, Keswick and Solway PCN said, "We knew there was a gap and that young people who needed some emotional help weren’t getting the support required or were on waiting lists for medical services that might not have actually met their needs.

"For me, it was important that the people using the service had a hand in shaping how it would work."

Since September 2020, there have been more than 350 referrals into the LINK service. In a recent evaluation, 88% of young people interviewed felt less isolated due to working with the LINK service.

Ellen Buckley from Barnardo’s who supports the service added: "It’s wonderful for the hard work of the team to be recognised and it works because we worked with the young people to understand the challenges and the gaps and how we could meet them. We are also now looking at ways of growing the service.”

Feedback from young people includes: “I felt really lonely before covid and it just got so much worse. LINK made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world – like there were people out there who could understand me.”

And: “Every time we got put back in lockdown it got harder but LINK helped me work out what to do each time to make sure I didn’t go mad!”