A pioneering partnership project empowering children and young people from Hackney’s African and Caribbean communities has won a prestigious national award.
The borough’s Tree of Life project has received the ‘Innovation and Improvement in Reducing Healthcare Inequalities Award’ at the annual Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards 2023.
The Awards are recognised as the ‘Oscars’ of the healthcare sector.
Tree of Life is a narrative-based talking therapy approach that aims to respond to groups or communities who have experienced social suffering in contexts where ‘therapy’ may not be culturally resonant.
The partnership has piloted this intervention in an innovative way, delivered by trained Peer Leaders from African, Caribbean and dual heritage in secondary schools to groups of young people from the same cultural background.
The programme aims to give young people from African, Caribbean and mixed heritage backgrounds space to believe in their abilities, acknowledge their dreams and talk about difficult experiences in a safe environment.
Partners involved in the project included Hackney CVS, the North East London (NEL) ICB, Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in the City and Hackney at the East London NHS Foundation Trust, Hackney Council and the City of London Corporation.
The ceremony was held at Evolution London in Battersea Park on Thursday 16 November, and the Award was presented by actor and comedian Matt Lucas. The collaboration was praised for its dynamic and innovative approach to educating and supporting students at a secondary level.
Mariona Garcia Edo, from City and Hackney Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, said: “We are delighted to have won an HSJ Award for the Tree of Life in Schools project.”
Abigail Asante, a youth leader at Hackney CVS, said: “Tree of Life has been instrumental in helping young people in Hackney understand their identity, background and culture. The project has given young people the space and time to challenge and see themselves in a positive light.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the delivery team and seeing the positive change the project is having. We must keep this project going.”