HeadStart Kernow - Digital

HeadStart Kernow’s Start Now website was co-produced by young people and HeadStart, and designed as the go-to source for children and young people seeking mental health and wellbeing support or wanting to become involved with HeadStart Kernow through co-production and participation. Start Now evolved from the original HeadStart Kernow website, which was designed for professionals, parents and carers. The idea to redesign and create a new website came from young people, who wanted a website that was designed and created by young people, for young people. Start Now went live in 2017, and has since been visited 36,000 times with a monthly average of over 4,000 visits.

“Resilience to me is a big part of my life as I am currently being bullied. The resilience is that I still go into school daily and still push through the days no matter what, so I can continue my education. No matter how hard it gets, resilience shows you are strong enough to push through anything. Thank you so much for getting me involved in this amazing website” – young person via the Start Now website

The website features 3 key and easily accessible sections:

  • ‘get involved’, explains how young people could participate in co-production with HeadStart Kernow (and wider youth engagement at Cornwall Council)
  • ‘5 ways to wellbeing’, links to NHS advice and information on mental wellbeing and locally-created resources
  •  ‘get help’, informs young people of the services on offer through HeadStart Kernow, other services in Cornwall and national organisations e.g. Children and how to access them.

These pages remain essential sources of information for young people in Cornwall seeking support for their mental health or wanting to co-produce with HeadStart, and feature alongside additional content which is identified, sourced and edited by young people:

It’s OK!

Lists how to look after your own mental health and wellbeing; that it’s ‘ok not to be ok’; information on how to recognise when you, or your friends, need help; how to get good information and ask for help; and that the adults around them are there to listen and support.


Features RUOK Now?, an anonymous survey on mental health, and RUOK? Talk, where young people can record themselves giving their thoughts, views and feelings on things that matter to them. These features were set up during the first lockdown to provide young people with the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings during this time, and to enable HeadStart Kernow to capture a snapshot of how young people were coping and what strategies they may have been using. HeadStart Kernow worked with colleagues in schools and with young people to design the survey using Mentimeter, which was then securely hosted on the Start Now website.

The RUOKNow? survey is designed so that all young people have the opportunity to give their feedback on their mental health and what they need from services, schools and adults in their lives to stay happy and healthy. The information is gathered by HeadStart Kernow and shared with a schools and communities group – set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic - and used to inform the development of services and approaches to support children and young people’s mental health.

RUOK? Talk enables young people to record and submit a message up to five minutes long on any subject or topic important to them. It was set up following a short notice request from South West Grid for Learning regarding online life during the pandemic. HeadStart Kernow encourages feedback from young people on particular issues, such as returning to school after lockdown. These tools are designed to provide young people with the opportunity to share their thoughts on themed subjects as opposed to sharing their feelings and personal experiences. The ‘Get Help Now’ hyperlink on the page redirects young people to the ‘Get Help’ page, where they can find ways to talk to someone if they need mental health and wellbeing support.

Back to School

Back to School began as an information and advice section on Covid-19 and managing mental health and wellbeing during a pandemic, and then evolved to focus on returning to school after lockdown. It provides wellbeing ideas and tips, such as ways to get back into a healthy sleep routine, getting a healthy diet and ‘what to do about worries’. It links to the Connect Card page (described below), to help provide young people with more emotional support as they return to school.  

Connect Card

The Connect Card was created by young people to provide other young people with a quick way to find information about emotional health and wellbeing, and how and where to find support. The Connect Card is an eco-friendly plastic card designed to be kept handy in a wallet, on a keyring or in a phone case, and contains a QR code that, when scanned, takes young people directly to a page of the Start Now website that is not included in the navigation pane. This page provides young people with information on wellbeing and mental health, ways and places to find support and help, signposting to activities in their local area, giveaways and competitions and ways to co-produce and get involved with HeadStart. Available in three designs created by young people, over 30,000 Connect Cards have been distributed to schools, voluntary sector organisations, libraries; council buildings; youth clubs and individual young people / parents and carers since September 2021.

“We've just got our cards - they are fab! Thank you so much!” – young person

Youth in Mind

Youth in Mind is a film project that gives young people in Cornwall the opportunity to share messages through film. Young people take part in writing, storyboarding and filming, and all films produced by young people are published by Start Now. The page includes links to an application form where young people can express interest in making their own film through the project.


WRAP stands for Wellbeing Resilience Action Plan, and provides the means for young people to create a wellbeing plan either online, via an app or on a downloaded booklet. The wellbeing plan is broken down into five sections: things that support my wellbeing, things to avoid when I’m feeling low, triggers, challenges and early warning signs; getting help and support; and my one-minute safety plan.

‘I think mental wellbeing is very important because I know what it is like to go through it [struggles with mental wellbeing]. I think this could really help me’ – young person via Start Now website

The WRAP section of the website is drawn from a collaboration between Dr Pooky Knightsmith, the Charlie Waller Trust and young people in Cornwall. The young people developed their own ideas for what should be included in the WRAP, and reviewed existing materials.


The Toolkit page provides young people with activities and ideas to support wellbeing, including:

  • Printable affirmations
  • Calming and relaxation ideas
  • Self-care tips and ideas
  • Information on feelings and emotions.

This page is designed to complement the WRAP page by equipping young people with the tools needed to implement their Wellbeing and Resilience Action Plan.

HeadStart kernow web page