Off the Record, Croydon

6th March 2020

National: London Borough of Croydon, United Kingdom

Geography type: Urban

Population covered: Croydon has a population of 384,837 (Croydon Observatory, 2017), 19% of which [74,319] are school aged [5-19 years] (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, JSNA 2017). By 2031, there will be 434,448 people in Croydon, an increase of 12% (Director of Public Health Report, 2017). It has areas of urban deprivation with high levels of crime, as well as more affluent suburban areas. BAME groups make up approximately 50.7% of the local population (Director of Public Health Report, 2017).

There are wide gaps in health indicators across the borough. Croydon has one of the highest child and adolescent populations in London. It is estimated that there are approximately 8,855 children and young people aged 0-18 in Croydon with a diagnosable mental health condition. (Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, 2018). It is also estimated there were 21,000 children and young people in Croydon, with some form of mental health need (JSNA, 2018) .

Professional group/type of organisation involved e.g. acute, CAMHS, voluntary sector, primary care

Voluntary organisation and other partners.

Details of initiative

Off the Record offers face to face and online counselling services and workshops to young people from 14-25 years presenting with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. It aims to raise the awareness and the profile of young people’s mental health needs in the borough via meetings, forums and projects. It has been a member of the multi-agency Children and Young People’s Joint Planning Team Mental Health Sub-Group from its inception and serves as a representative of the Voluntary Sector on the Children and Young People’s Network Group.

The Mental Health Sub-Group identified several areas for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) modernisation funding. These included a local mental health needs assessment and a multi-disciplinary project for tackling young people’s mental ill-health in secondary schools.

Secondary schools project

This initiative aimed to support schools in meeting the mental health needs of pupils through consultancy, staff support and direct work with vulnerable young people, including young black pupils at risk of exclusion. A multi-disciplinary team was established and drawn from health, social services and the voluntary sector.

The team comprises a programme coordinator, family therapist, educational psychologist, social worker and a specialist minority ethnic worker seconded from Off the Record. The project is managed through Croydon CAMHS. An advisory group, managers of the partner agencies oversees the project.

Type of integration (vertical, horizontal, population)


Outcomes achieved

  • Croydon CAMHS and Off the Record have a relationship based on confidence and mutual respect
  • Croydon CAMHS respect counselling as a method and there is a positive view of counselling in the borough
  • There is a substantial history of established liaison across the sectors at strategic forums and working groups
  • There is a shared view of the importance of counselling as an early intervention.

Challenges, successes, lessons learned and advice

  • Counselling is widely supported in Croydon, but the view of adult services is less clear
  • There is a lack of strong links between the Joint Planning Team Sub-Group and the primary care groups
  • There is inequality in access to decision-making forums for the voluntary sector
  • There is an inability to exploit joint working in an area with coterminous boundaries
  • The impact of the lack of funds on joint working is a challenge

Cost benefit information

Not provided

Website link

Youth Access Breaking Down the Barriers (BDBP) case studies

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