Story 23 - Blog

Tim's Story

Tim Wates is Chairman of the Wates Group. Established in 1897, it is one of the leading privately-owned construction, development, and property services companies in the UK. The Wates Family Enterprise Trust, an independent charity set up by the Wates family, have been supporting Look Ahead since 2021.

Every year the Wates Family Enterprise Trust supports a range of non-profit organisations and charitable causes that reflect our three strategic priorities; housing, life opportunities and sustainability. I’m the lead trustee for housing for the Trust, so I have got to know Look Ahead, one of our partners in this area, well over the last couple of years.

Developing strong, ongoing relationships with a small number of charities is important to us. We often work with organisations, who might not get support from elsewhere. We might support them to invest in research or evaluating how well an existing system or model works.

We are particularly interested in projects that can be scaled up, reaching as many people as possible, and those that can be a real catalyst for change.

We were delighted to support Look Ahead with a research project last year that looked at the needs and experiences of young people in mental health crisis. It’s an issue that I feel very passionate about.

The findings were stark. The authors, Care Research, found an increasing number of young people aged 16-24 are falling between the gaps of child and adult mental health services, and that A&E Departments are becoming ‘accidental hubs,’ ill-equipped to provide the care and treatment so desperately needed by this group.

The report concluded with a number of recommendations, most notably a need for alternative community crisis services for young people, based in supported housing settings away from hospital. At the report launch at the House of Lords earlier this year, the benefits were laid out for all to see; reduced pressures on NHS services already under strain, reduced costs of around 50% and crucially, better experiences for young people in a mental health crisis at one of the most pivotal points in their lives. The significance of this work cannot be underestimated.

Helping young people experiencing a mental health crisis to recover and move on with their lives is critical. Without the development of more appropriate services in suitable settings, we will undoubtedly see an even bigger national mental health crisis in the years to come.

The time for action is now. It is my hope that organisations like Look Ahead can build on this

work by offering real, practical solutions that engender a real shift in how this group is supported. We’ve been impressed with Look Ahead’s on-the-ground expertise and their appetite to influence and call for change at a more systemic level around this issue.

So, we are pleased to be extending our funding to take this project to the next stage and hope to continue to open a wider conversation about integration between health, housing, and social care. I’m proud of our partnership and am looking forward to seeing how this work evolves.