HeadStart Blackpool - Resilience Revolution

  • Cameron, Josh (PI)
  • Hart, Angie (CoPI)
  • Eryigit-Madzwamuse, Suna (CoPI)
  • Haynes, Phil (CoI)
  • Heaver, Becky (PI)
  • Walker, Carl (PI)
  • Beswick, Caroline (CoI)
  • Wrigglesworth, Pauline (CoI)

Project Details


HeadStart was a six-year, £67.4 million National Lottery funded programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. 

It aimed to explore and test new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10–16 and prevent serious mental health issues from developing. To do this, six local-authority-led HeadStart partnerships in Blackpool, Cornwall, Hull, Kent, Newham and Wolverhampton worked with local young people, schools, families, charities, community services and public services to make young people’s mental health and wellbeing everybody’s business.

The programme was designed to test and learn – to try new approaches and be innovative – with the intention being to sustain and embed effective approaches locally.

The University of Brighton's Centre of Resilience for Social Justice were leading partners in the initiation and development of Headstart Blackpool, where five years of project work based on the centre's long-term research was given the name 'Resilience Revolution', with initiatives that would outlast the original five-year project.


‘Resilience Revolution’ was the name of the project through which the HeadStart Blackpool Lottery funds were deployed.

Resilience has many definitions, but to ‘Resilience Revolution’ it is about supporting people to beat the odds, whilst changing the odds. It is about the cumulative effect of systems. Systems-based resilience involves internal and external factors that contribute to an individual’s or community’s capacity to positively respond to adversity.

The partners found over the years that most people are interested in resilience and are doing lots of resilient building work already – they just might not have called it that before. The partners also believe that, with a little guidance and support, anybody can bounce forward through tough times. 

Boingboing Blackpool is an extension of Brighton’s own long-standing Boingboing social enterprise and network, and was set up with funding from  the Big Lottery Fund’s HeadStart programme. Founded by University of Brighton academics from the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice, together with associate members and community partners, it provides an interface between scholarly, academic practice and community needs. The new Blackpool equivalent will be part of the ‘Resilience Revolution’ partnership. Boingboing members have developed practical ways to build resilience for schools and local communities. Their Resilient Therapy and Academic Resilience Approaches are available free to download from www.boingboing.org.uk.

The University of Brighton’s Centre of Resilience for Social Justice works directly through its related social enterprise and network, 'Boingboing', to tackle disadvantage and bring genuine change to people's lives around the world. Its member researchers cross the fields of healthcare, sociology, media studies and arts practices and include academics, social workers, teachers, experts through experience and service users.

Blackpool is a quirky town, well-known and well-visited. Yet it is impossible to live in Blackpool untouched by the problems of being a booming seaside resort for 8 months of the year, and the poverty which surfaces when the tourists leave in winter. The town, the most deprived in England (DCLG Indices of Deprivation 2015), and at the very bottom of league tables for income, employment, skills, educational attainment, mental and physical health, seems to offer few advantages and little cause for optimism to those seeking a bright future. And yet, there are rich and underused assets to build on, crucial to realising the benefits of the HeadStart investment.

The tender for evaluating Resilience Revolution was given to the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice led by Dr Josh Cameron with Dr Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse, Prof Phil Haynes, Dr Becky Heaver and Dr Carl Walker. It will be a 4 year collaborative mixed methods project to research the effectiveness of Blackpool Council's Lottery funded Headstart programme which they are using to bring about a 'Resilience Revolution' to support the wellbeing and education of children and young people in Blackpool.


To help achieve improved lives for young people, the first offshoot of the Boingboing social enterprise and network took root as Boingboing Blackpool, joining the Resilience Revolution partnership, which has brought the young people of the city together with senior leaders, practitioners, parents/carers, managers, academics, community groups from the voluntary sector, police, health, and schools under the leadership of Blackpool Council.

Using a community of practice approach, it has forged expertise in co-production, putting young people themselves at the heart of the developments. The partners are embedding training and framework practices into local schools and communities, ensuring that the project has the best chance of being sustained; they are committed to providing a “crib to college” life course approach that ensures prevention is at the heart of the developments and provides a positive resilience shift for all the city’s young people.

Extending the reach of the frameworks developed by Centre of Resilience for Social Justice members through Boingboing in Brighton, Resilience Revolution will embed resilient practice across the Blackpool project, giving the best prospect of greater sustainability.

This in turn will deepen the centre’s understanding of resilience, establishing the many years of achievement in a new, national exemplar of excellence.
Through this, the centre’s work will continue to influence local, regional, national and international research and practice. By spreading the learning far and wide, new knowledge is applied and tested through the co-productive work which is also supported by postgraduate and undergraduate students.

Resilience Revolution aims

The Resilience Revolution aims for a sustainable, whole-system change to the town of Blackpool, transforming systems to give people the right support at the right time and in the right place. Implementing and developing resilience approaches – Resilient Therapy, the Academic Resilience Approach and Friends for Life - designed by Professor Angie Hart and collaborators.

Resilience Revolution is:
> providing purposeful opportunities for any member of the community, particularly those affected by disadvantage, to co-lead a grass roots social movement
> mobilising the town towards supporting every young person’s resilience and> providing a resilience-promoting environment for all 10-16 year olds offering programmes to every young person in year five by embedding the Academic Resilience Approach, which is a whole-school approach, in Blackpool’s schools.
> providing a community development approach and young people’s hub to embed a resilience approach.
> improving schools’ pastoral care by developing the current workforce through training, supervision and communities of practice to help embed Resilient Therapy into everyday practice.
> developing and providing Video Interaction Guidance training and supervision
> giving tailored support for three priority target groups:• Our children (looked-after children) – support includes personal resilience building friends for life and a digital mentoring community• young people who self-harm – support includes systems remodelling, daily group resilience sessions in hospitals, and development of PSHE curricula• young people in transition from primary to secondary school – support includes team support from resilience coaches across years 6 and 7.

Boingboing aims
The team established Boingboing Blackpool to provide a community development model that will ensure young people and parents/carers have the best possible opportunity to get involved in the HeadStart programme.
The model has established a Blackpool Resilience Forum to enable the wider community to learn about resilience research and practice. Boingboing is also providing the training and on going supervision for the resilience coaches and the young people’s workforce more widely.

The Boingboing intervention will increase resilience in young people, parents and carers, will give access to apprenticeships for disadvantaged young people and will develop a confident, resilient, skilled, motivated and caring workforce. 

The University of Brighton aims

The university's Centre of Resilience for Social Justice developed a research partnership to harness the collaboration between all those involved in the Resilience Revolution. We use co-productive approaches to build capacity and to improve self- sustaining research practice.

The centre:

> is bringing together academic, practitioner and lived experience knowledge for multi-faceted research/evaluation.
> ensures young people, as the central focus of HeadStart, play a leading role in its evaluation.> understands and researches resilience and adolescent well-being using social justice and complex system approaches.
> is carrying out robust and co-produced evidence-based mixed-methods research that combines diverse methods that match the complexity of the Resilience Revolution and that are meaningful to people who are part of the Revolution.> is conducting high quality complex system evaluation.> ensures high standards of ethical conduct for complex and co-produced research scrupulous are consistently followed securing the appropriate University and Local Authority approvals.
> is facilitating co-produced multi-agency research events, workshops, presentations and meetings.
> widely co-presents research findings by co-designing research output in various formats including written (such as academic papers and non-academic practice reports) and in other formats (such as running policy events, making short movies and on digital platforms).

Working through our Boingboing social enterprise and partnership, and with our community of researchers, university-based academics are conducting the evaluation of the Resilience Revolution project.

The findings will help the continuing refinement of those methods and practices which have been developed through the work of its members since the early 2000s, including: communities of practice (Wenger, 2002), complex system theory (Haynes, 2015), Value Creation Framework (Wenger-Trayner et al, 2017) and social justice oriented resilience theory (Hart et al, 2016).

The partnership aims to:
> enlist academic expertise and support in the design and delivery of a suitable evaluation and research methodology for a complex systems change programme.develop a strong, mutually beneficial, research collaboration with emphasis on co-publication and dissemination of findings for local, national and international audiences.
> enhance capacity and opportunities for research through co-located staff, knowledge exchange and skills development.
> create an independent source of research leadership and challenge to make sure HeadStart is developing and acting on a sound understanding of what’s working and what’s not. > deliver co-produced research outputs and activities.

Layman's description

Key findings

Resilience Revolution was based on the research into resilience conducted through Boingboing and the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice at the University of Brighton.

True to the co-development principles for which Boingboing is a national and international leader, Resilience Revolution looked to develop a resilient Blackpool, one where its nearly 11,000 young people, “see the difference, feel the difference and are the difference.”

The Resilience Revolution has delivered an extensive programme of lasting change to disadvantaged young people in the town of Blackpool, through a successful £10.4 million Big Lottery HeadStart funding bid. Though the Blackpool pilot has now been completed, the Resilience Revolution lives on in our networks through ongoing collaborative activities.

"All of Blackpool’s public and voluntary sector agencies are fully committed to learning from what HeadStart teaches us in terms of what really works and embedding it as part of our sustainability strategy…and we intend to work tirelessly in partnership with others to deliver a better future for Blackpool’s young people.” Neil Jack, Chief Executive, Blackpool Council.

Effective start/end date1/09/1631/07/22


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