PRESS RELEASE: Double nominations at this year’s CYP Now Awards for The Haven

The Haven Wolverhampton is proud to announce that its Children and Young People’s (CYP) service has been shortlisted twice at this year’s Children and Young People Now Awards; their Virtual Reality Project in the Mental Health & Wellbeing Award category, while CYP worker Jemma Cooke made the shortlist for the Children and Young People’s Champion.

The Children & Young People Now Awards celebrate everyone working with children, young people and their families. For the past 16 years, they have recognised those who are committed to improving the lives of others within the sector. The award presents a great opportunity for organisations like The Haven to highlight some of the initiatives they have embarked on with the children and young people in their service, over the past year.

The award for Mental Health and Wellbeing is for an “initiative that has done the most to transform the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, whether through prevention, early intervention or treatment,” according to the award’s website.  The Haven’s Virtual Reality Project has been shortlisted in this category.

Laura Buksh who is the CYP Manager at The Haven Wolverhampton said; “Virtual Reality is such a unique service that we are running. It is one of the first of its kind within the West Midlands and the results are truly spectacular. Children and adults are engaging extremely well within this project as it’s a different way to support them, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Jemma Cooke

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge for the CYP service. Social distancing measures meant that all in-person therapy had to be suspended until further notice. As everywhere went on lockdown, the Virtual Reality project was initiated to take vulnerable children and adults to new and exciting places, while giving them an immersive experience away from the trauma of domestic abuse and violence. These included virtual museums and rollercoaster rides.

This project offered access to an alternative form of therapy, while also helping children with their education, confidence, self-esteem and even with building friendships. One said, “This is amazing! I really liked it and think I was brave on the roller coaster rides. Please can have another session?” 100% of parents supported within the Wolverhampton community said the support to their children was beneficial during the lockdown. 90% of the children and young people who used the service stated that Virtual Reality has helped them see a reduction in their anxiety and stress levels.

“We have witnessed this reduction first-hand within our sessions,” said Laura Buksh. “As a team, we are extremely excited for the next phase of this project and for the training package to be launched to share with other professionals about the incredible new way to bring gaming to the forefront of therapeutic support for our women and children.”

Jemma Cooke who is a CYP Worker within the team and has been shortlisted for The Children and Young People’s Champion said, “It’s an honour to be nominated for such an amazing award, I feel truly blessed. I have been passionate about helping vulnerable children and young people for over 10 years now and truly feel that children need their voices to be heard. This nomination motivates me to continue to help children to achieve the best possible outcomes, no matter what their experiences or challenges are in life.”

The Haven Wolverhampton would like to acknowledge BBC Children in Need and their COVID-19 2020 Booster Programme part-funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Barclays Foundation and their Barclays 100×100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, as well as an individual “Haven Hero” who raised over £3000 through the gaming platform Twitch, for their contributions towards the Virtual Reality project and The Haven Wolverhampton’s wider award-worthy CYP service.

Those shortlisted will be celebrated at a virtual awards ceremony taking place on 25th November 2021. To find out more, visit



Pamilerin Beckley (Architect of Stories, The HAVEN, Wolverhampton)

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