A Leith community centre that provides a range of counselling and mental health services for young people has won praise from academics and ministers
A community health service for young people in north Edinburgh has been hailed as a model of good practice and a strong example of effective youth work in Scotland.
The Junction, which has itself just become a teenager and celebrated its 13th birthday, has been evaluated as offering a positive support for young people in Leith and surrounding areas. It has also been highlighted in the Scottish Parliament this week as a particularly strong mental health service for young people.
Young people themselves said the Junction provided a friendly, safe space where they feel welcome, and staff supported and encourage them and the service offers provided a consistent but flexible support.
The evaluation was carried out by the University of Edinburgh Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy. It interviewed young people, staff and board members at the organisations.
Report author John McAteer said: “Interview findings suggested that the Junction is working as intended in many respects and that the asset-based model of working adopted by the Junction impacts upon the development of coping skills and behaviour changes, in additional to young people’s mental and physical wellbeing.”
The Junction offers a range of services including counselling, one-to-on support, alcohol support and education and support with parental substance abuse. It also offers sexual health services such as STI testing, access to C-Cards (condom cards) and information.
The evaluation found that young people wishing to access information and support relating to sexual health felt comfortable attending the Junction. Young people didn’t feel that they had access to this elsewhere and were reluctant to talk to teachers about sex.
One 14-year-old interviewee said: “I don’t like talking to teachers, I prefer here”.
The Junction was also compared very favourably to other services.
One young person said: “I’ve had a wide-range of experience within different organisations, and I would say without a doubt The Junction has been a great service and I feel it is the best service for young people in Edinburgh. Because, from my experience, it’s one of the only organisations, where I’ve been fully supported and where I’ve felt like the Junction have listened to my needs and responded to those.”
The Scottish Governments minister for mental health Clare Haughey MSP highlighted the good work of the Junction in the Scottish Parliament this week, referring to it as "a fantastic resource that children and young people can drop into to receive counselling and support, including peer support, without an appointment.”
Sam Anderson, founding director of the Junction, said: “It is really helpful for us to have our approach validated through this research and have it confirmed that our ways of working with young people both honours what is important to them and is effective.
"The evaluation provides us with a strong foundation to continue to evolve The Junctions services while we also share our learning of the past 13 years more widely with other areas interested in developing a similar model."
Sam is open to sharing information about The Junction's Nested Provision Model with other Scottish services working with young people. Email [email protected] to disucss it with her.