My name is Jane Reid. I am a consultant supporting the Cardiff & Vale Starting Well Partnership to deliver upon the emPOWER Programme.

I am a children’s physiotherapist by background and have always been passionate about improving outcomes for children and young people.

I have a clinical, leadership and programme management background predominantly working with children, young people and their families so unsurprisingly I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this exciting journey. 


emPOWER Programme 

The emPOWER Programme is a multi-agency* programme for children, young people and their families who need emotional health and wellbeing support. 

  • emPOWER (emotional wellbeing empowerment) Programme name has been co-produced with Young People  

Multi-agency means that different organisations are working together for the same reason – to help children and young people.  Multi-agency teams include:  

  • Cardiff & Vale Local Authorities – including Children’s Services, Education and Early Help 
  • Health services 
  • The third sector 

Where were we?

One of my first tasks was to understand the experiences of children, young people and families who need emotional health and wellbeing support, which meant listening to the views of young people, families and professionals supporting them.

This also included understanding what works well currently and where there are opportunities to make things better.  

To use an analogy, I like to explain that at that time it felt a bit like a jigsaw puzzle in a box without the big picture!

Some pieces were the right way up, some weren’t and we didn’t know if there were any pieces missing.  

Jigsaw pieces

This meant there was not a joint picture of the emotional wellbeing and mental health services for infants, children and young people and gaps weren’t clear.  

The pieces were turned the right way up over a period of time through discussion, workshops and feedback from children, young people and their families.

Many of these pieces were already known but it was important to pull them together to get the bigger picture and to see what pieces were missing. 

In order to get a clear picture on the box it was imperative that we listened to children, young people and families as well as professionals working within the services. The below summarises what was heard and forms the basis of the programme. 

What was wrong?

  • Families often have to repeat their stories and have several assessments before accessing the help and support they need; communication between services needs to be better
  • The waiting lists to access services are long
  • There is a limited understanding of roles and pathways into and through services
  • Services are often disjointed and there are multiple entry points which can be confusing

What do young people want?

  • Young people want to be able to access services directly and have choices of how and when this occurs
  • They want services that are needs led – NOT diagnosis or threshold led
  • Young people need support whilst waiting to see professionals
  • There is a need for increased joint working at assessment and early intervention stages
  • There is a need to move upstream from a medical/illness model to a wellness/prevention model 

This was also at a time where there was an increasing need for help which had been exacerbated by the impact of  Covid-19 on children and young people, their families and the teams supporting them. 

Where are we?

There is commitment, enthusiasm and many examples of good practice across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan where services are already embedding these principles. 

A few examples are: – 

  • Third sector Parent support worker who provides 1:1 support for parents and carers of children and young people accessing specialist services e.g. act as advocate, think about how can support CYP, think about own emotional needs 
  • Cardiff Children’s services and in-patient Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health services working together via a liaison social worker role to support early and safe discharge for those children in crisis   
  • Early Help teams in Cardiff and Vale now have Mental Health practitioners within their teams which is enabling support for practitioners in Eearly Help teams to “hold on” rather than refer on through reflective conversations, whilst also enabling step up without the need for additional referrals 
  • In Education, Behaviour Support Teams have been replaced by ‘Emotional health and Wellbeing Team’ ( Cardiff) and the Engagement Service (Vale), using evidenced based approaches to support children and young people with attachment difficulties, developmental trauma, ACEs which employs a more inclusive and proactive approach to emotional health and wellbeing. 

We have held several Inspiration and Momentum Events to:

  • share good practice,
  • challenge thinking and,
  • begin to formulate what needs to happen next to begin to piece the jigsaw together which ties into the national  NEST/NYTH Framework and the need for Nurturing, Empowering, Safe and Trusted relationships.

Attendees at these included individuals across Health, Education, Children’s Services, Early Help and our Third Sector partners 

Based upon feedback, observation of current practice and review of regional, national and international best practice, the key priorities are:

  1. Provide earlier intervention and preventative services to move upstream to a wellness model
  2. Make it easier for children, young people and families to consistently access the right support without the need for repeating their stories or for new referrals 
  3. Enable earlier multi-agency discussions where this is beneficial for the individual 
  4. Decrease the demand on very specialist services;  

The great news is that the need for this programme is recognised regionally and nationally and the deliverables of the programme have been signed off through the Emotional Health & Wellbeing Delivery Group and the Starting Well Partnership. 

So watch this space 😊 


Jane Reid 

Attain Associate Consultant