Successful women-centred wellbeing project celebrated
Hosted by the University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, the event will bring together experts in gender-specific ways of working, young women, academics and those involved in The Way Forward project.
The Way Forward Project was set up in January 2013 as a new approach aiming to identify and engage with girls and young women at risk, who were slipping between existing offers of health service provision and who would otherwise enter adulthood with severe and escalating levels of disadvantage. The project is located within the WomenCentre in Halifax.
Leeds Beckett University has been involved as research partners on the project over the last three years, evaluating its progress and success. The research team’s results will be presented at the event, which takes place from 11am to 3pm at the University’s Rose Bowl building. Several young women who have worked on the project will also stimulate discussion and dialogue amongst guests and raise issues around key questions such as: why do young women not get help when they need it the most and what happens when they don’t get the help they need at the right time?
Dr Louise Warwick-Booth, Principal Investigator of The Way Forward Evaluation said: “The Way Forward project set out to engage, support and empower girls and young women. It allows young women to express their own needs, anxieties and views and its unique approach challenges the invisibility of girls and young women in the current system of health service provision.
“Women are placed at the heart of the ethos and experience, with the project changing shape as it has responded to actual situations and need. It has provided some powerful insights into gendered approached to health and wellbeing support. The celebration event is set to be a unique opportunity for experts and young women to meet together and discuss the value of gender-specific ways of working.”
Over the course of the three year pilot, the project identified and addressed unmet needs for 165 young women. Evaluation of the project by the Leeds Beckett research team showed that it has been a success in providing a gendered, personalised and preventative approach to working with young women at risk.
Young women using the project reported that they had trust and confidence in the service, with one relating that, after taking part, she stopped drinking and recognised that this, along with counselling, would help her to deal with her problems. An engagement worker on the project interviewed reported that the programme was likely to reduce incidents of self-harm, girls putting themselves at risk, crime, pregnancies and involvement with the criminal justice system.
Dr Warwick-Booth added: “Using evidence from focus group discussions, interviews and analysis of monitoring data and case notes, we can emphatically say that The Way Forward was a successful project that provides a good example of preventative, early intervention work with young women.”