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Health and wellbeing: ‘Space to thrive’ report launched

New research from Locality recommends new measures for community spaces supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Our latest report – Space to thrive’– explores the role of community spaces in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people (CYP) across England.

It comes as part of our ongoing work as a member of the government’s VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance (HW Alliance) – representing community organisations in the development of policy to tackle health inequalities.

This research was guided by the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities and engaged around 100 VCSE organisations, statutory professionals, and young people. Through this, we have identified six key findings:

  • Community spaces which support CYP mental health and wellbeing come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Their support is critical in this area, both for CYP themselves and their wider communities.
  • The demand for both “open access” and “specialist” provision from community spaces in this area is increasing.
  • Community spaces offer a low or no-cost, depressurised, safe, and relaxed “third space” for CYP, away from school and home life.
  • They create positive impact across a wide range of factors affecting CYP mental health and wellbeing.
  • But, they are facing multiple challenges in sustaining their space and provision.

Based on these findings, we present 10 recommendations for the health system and VCSE sector, including at Primary Care Network, Integrated Care System, local authority, and national level. These recommendations cover:

  • Resourcing community organisations
  • Culture change and collaboration
  • Workforce development
  • National policy priorities and development

If embraced, they can help to maximise and sustain the role of community spaces in this crucial area.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing further health and wellbeing work on the role of community organisations in sustainable neighbourhood health systems.

These reports also follow the publication of ‘Creating health and wealth by stealth’ in January, looking at the role of community anchor organisations in providing illness prevention services focussed on the wider determinants of health.

Keep an eye on our dedicated HW Alliance page for more information. If you’d like to discuss this work in more detail, please contact