Nurses are heading out and about across County Durham to offer help and health advice to children and young people.
The Growing Healthy Bus will, for the next six months, see staff from Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT) criss-crossing the county to improve the wellbeing of five to 19-year-olds.
Cabinet Member for Adult and Health Services, Cllr Lucy Hovvels, said: “We know that there are a range of difficulties that young people can face, be it at home, at school, or with friends.
“But by taking advice and support to them we can try to help them overcome challenges and issues before they become more serious.”
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Cabinet Member for Children’s and Youth Services, said: “This mobile unit will be particularly useful in the less accessible areas of the county and help us to deliver support to some of our more hard to reach families.”
What can the Growing Healthy bus offer?
HDFT is commissioned by Durham County Council’s public health team to provide services for under-19s.
As part of that contract the Trust was asked to launch a mobile service to take school nurses out into communities for six months.
The Growing Healthy Bus features a private consultation area where children and young people can come and talk about a variety of issues – including sexual health and relationships, smoking and their emotional wellbeing – in confidence.
The Growing Healthy bus sets off
The new service made its first stop in the Durham Dales in October, and will now operate across the county, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, until March 2017.
Suzanne Lamb, Head of Children’s Public Health Nursing at HDFT, said: “The team are looking forward to meeting children, young people and their families across the county.
“This is an opportunity for children and young people to tell us what they need from our service so we can develop new ways of working to meet the needs of families, schools and communities.”
The new bus is an extension to the year-round work of the Growing Healthy 5-19 team, which sees school and community health nurses, the Family Initiative Supporting Children’s Health team, and health administrators, visit towns and villages to ensure the health and wellbeing of families.