Member blog: Why MAP is supporting the campaign to ‘Fund The Hubs‘

The team at Youth Access member MAP, in Norfolk, has been supporting the Fund The Hubs campaign by sending personalised letters to every MP in the region, letting them know how investment in services like theirs could have amazing benefits for young people around the country. MAP's CEO Dan Mobbs writes about why he and his team are so passionate about the campaign.

This blog was originally posted on MAPS's website, here.

I have just written to all Norfolk’s MPs asking for their support. Actual letters. We found some stamps in a dusty draw and Julie from finance helped me work the printer. They’re now in the post on their way to Parliament. I was writing for support with the national campaign “Fund the Hubs”. This is being led by Youth Access, Young Minds, the Children’s Society and others. We are asking Government to fund a national programme of early support hubs for young people’s mental health; advice and counselling centres where young people can get what they need in one place. A place you can drop in to, self-refer. A place that will support your whole self, won’t ask you to repeat your story and, importantly, won’t wait until you are in crisis.

MAP opened its first advice and counselling centre 30 years ago. We will be celebrating later this year! We provide advice about jobs, money, debt or housing; counselling for depression, anxiety, trauma or abuse; all under one roof, staffed by professional advisers, counsellors and youth workers. We know it works, as do hundreds of other local youth charities embedded in their community. Young people tell us this is what they need.

It’s been a challenge. Short-term and patchy funding has meant just keeping the doors open is a major achievement. Some areas of the country have nothing at all. We desperately need to ease waiting lists with NHS services and provide early intervention. We owe it to young people; especially as they have experienced some of the worst impacts of Covid-19 and mental health concerns are the highest they’ve been in a generation. We’ve been working on this for decades. We worked with Norman Lamb to ensure advice and counselling centres were a priority within Future in Mind – the current Government’s national strategy for children and young people’s mental health.  

A picture of the printed letters sent from MAP to MPs across the Norfolk and Waveney region

"I’m so enthused when young people tell me how MAP has helped them. Wouldn’t it be great, wouldn’t it be such a good investment, if this support was available everywhere? Let’s fund the hubs."

I’m optimistic. There is a consensus across parties and departments we need to prioritise young people’s mental health. In Norfolk our NHS is very supportive of our work. We are transforming mental health services together to a 0-25 Thrive model. Everyone is working hard to reduce waiting lists. Our MPs are very supportive. Brandon Lewis, Chloe Smith and Clive Lewis have all visited our centres. Liz Truss, George Freeman, Jerome Mayhew and Duncan Baker have heard from young people during the pandemic about their concerns, often meeting them on line and expressing their commitment to getting the right support in place. I’m hopeful they will get behind this campaign.

I’m so proud of what our staff and volunteers achieve every day. Our services have all remained open and available during the pandemic. I’m so enthused when young people tell me how MAP has helped them. Wouldn’t it be great, wouldn’t it be such a good investment, if this support was available everywhere? Let’s fund the hubs.