Innovation Exchange

The Corner Support U+


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


The Corner offers a wide range of Health and Peer Led services to young people aged 11-19 in Dundee through its drop-in centre and outreach work in local schools and communities.  The staff team is multi-disciplinary, comprising of Health Promotion staff, Youth Workers and Nurses.


Having seen a sharp increase in the number of young

people attending The Corner for mental health support, two health promotion workers, who are qualified counsellors, proposed to improve the existing service by offering counselling within The Corner through a service called Support U +. This innovative approach was a youth work counselling service based within an already successful young people’s organisation which was supported by The Corner partnership in a pilot year. Young people feel comfortable attending counselling at The Corner and the service had a large uptake in the pilot year which was recognised by the Dundee Suicide prevention group who continued to fund the service.


Support U + has a commitment to providing counselling to

Dundee’s most “hard to reach” young people. The service

ethos is based in the prevention of severe and enduring mental

health issues. Services are flexible and accessible - young people can attend The Corner drop-in when in crisis and counsellors can offer top up sessions.


This depth of work is achieved because it is contained within a successful established service that young people trust. This ensures that the service is cost-effective, efficient and, most importantly, inclusive.

Theme: Health and Social Care

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The Corner’s Support U+ project is an innovative and extremely effective service that provides support and access for vulnerable young people to address traumatic and damaging mental health issues.


Mental health is one of the most challenging issues facing many young people today. The Mental Health Foundation states that 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. The Mental Health Strategy for Scotland (2012-2015) states “The focus on “prevention, anticipation and supported self management” is central to taking forward mental health policy in Scotland.


Support U+ is an example of effective and early intervention in addressing this issue, in an environment that young people find accessible, safe, understanding, welcoming and caring.


The objectives of the service are that:


  1. Young people will be aware of and develop an ability toexpress emotions and find ways to manage difficult feelings in a positive way. They will also be aware of other appropriate services linked with their health issues.

  2. ‘Hard to reach’ vulnerable young people will gain access to specialised mental health support in an environment where they feel safe.

  3. Young people will learn the importance of mental wellbeing, personal coping skills and positive relationships.

  4. A relationship will be established with agencies who engage with ‘hard to reach’ vulnerable young people, including looked after young people, and work in partnership to provide mental health support.


The ethos of Support U + is the prevention of enduring mental ill health of young people in Dundee by offering a flexible accessible service.


The Support-U+ service is measured in 4 distinct ways:


  1. Young Persons Abbreviated Core Score: This is used at the start and end of Support U+ appointments to measure global distress.
  2. Sample Feedback: Young person, Carer, Worker
  3. Survey Monkey: Every young person seen in the Corner Drop In completes the survey with feedback.
  4. Anonymous Case Studies


Two Support U+ qualified counsellors (22.5 hours per week) worked with 40 young people, over a 10 month period (average six sessions), delivering 290 counselling sessions. The ages ranged between 11 and 24 with a mean age of 16.


The completed Core Scores record that all young people attending Support-U+ sessions with high levels of distress experienced a reduced and manageable level of distress on the conclusion of their sessions. Half of the 40 young people on initial assessment identified family and relationship problems as their main cause for distress, whilst identity and body image, depression and low mood, anxiety, self-harm and anger were also cited as being  a cause of distress.


Examples of feedback:


Young people

“Coming to the Corner is the best thing I can do and can be the best thing for other young people too. It makes me more me, than anywhere, I’m more calm, I can talk openly and it is the only place I can do all this. It is just the place is safe too, I don’t know what I would do without them cheers for what you have done for me and how you keep going on to help others.”



“The Support-U+ worker has been a constant source of support and reassurance for my daughter. She has always worked with her in such a respectful way, challenging her when she needed to be challenged, but ultimately understanding her when no-one else could. The Support-U+ worker has effectively and tangibly ‘humanised’ a situation that was, for our family, completely incomprehensible and terrifying.“


Workers (Head teacher, off-site education service)

“Consistent, caring environment created by the Support-U+ counsellor has certainly reached the most vulnerable young people, but in particular and I cannot emphasise enough, offering our young people an opportunity for a health specialist to give our young people language to express anxieties cannot be underestimated”


In conclusion, evidence has shown that Support U+ youth work counselling has reached engaged and supported vulnerable young people’s mental health issues. This has been evidenced through a thorough evaluation process.


Services offered were flexible and accessible, designed with young people’s needs in mind, working in partnership with CAHMS; Adolescent social work team and Looked after children nurses.


Support U+ caters for mental health needs as well as basic physiological and safety needs, bringing the “youth work” into counselling, a new and innovative way of working.


There was a barrier to funding Support U + as the service was developed in a time of recession. This was overcome by the Corner’s budget restructuring within the pilot year. Impressed by the pilot, Dundee suicide prevention group funded a further year.


In April 2016 the service will become permanent, funding two workers for 22.5 hours combined, meaning we can continue meaningful service delivery and improve service quality. It is hoped the service will evolve and grow in size so that it can be offered throughout the city.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Jimmy Dodds

Children and Youth Work Manager

Dundee City Council

01382 435832

Case study added to site: June 2016

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