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The Chief Nursing Officer for England looks forward to celebrating youth volunteering and social action:
Goodness where does a year go to? This time last year I blogged about the youth social action that was happening across health and social care.
And in September youth volunteering took centre stage at NHS Expo with young people sharing their volunteering journey alongside Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, and Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Improvement.
The resounding message from a fabulous session was the need to keep opening up volunteering opportunities to young people to invest in our local communities and grow our future workforce.
#iwill Week 2017 provides us with an opportunity to renew our commitment to youth social action across health and social care. As for NHS England’s commitments to youth volunteering for the year ahead, we’ll:
- Celebrate the contribution of young people in the health and care sector as part of NHS70 birthday celebrations.
- Work closely with NHS Improvement to encourage and support more health and care provider organisations to embed young volunteering programmes.
- Support Commissioners to understand, champion and grow youth volunteering across the sector.
- Collaborate with Healthwatch to engage young people in community based conversations about health and wellbeing and the difference young people can make.
- Empower more young people to support their peers and communities to live healthier lifestyles through the expansion of peer-education and health champion programmes working closely with Public Health England.
- Foster the culture of youth social action as a mechanism to encourage more young people to consider entering jobs in the health and care sectors supporting the work of Health Education England.
- Be a role model to the health and care system through its support of the NHS Youth Forum, valuing and championing the contribution of youth advocacy.
- Continue to seek out best practice in enabling more inclusive volunteering opportunities across health and social care for young people who may face health, social or economic inequalities.
There’s amazing work happening across the system to bring youth volunteering to life, whether volunteering is happening in communities with education programmes, through participation and engagement advocacy work, or perhaps more traditionally viewed volunteering through work in Trusts and in community settings via befriending programmes, providing practical hands on interventions, to name but a few.
Among the highlights for me in the last year has been the work by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) with NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and Voluntary and Community sector services (VCS) including Barnardos and Sharing Voices. They supported young people to lead and run a #SelfCareEverywhere event in July. Young people volunteered, co-ordinated and delivered this event to focus on the health and wellbeing of young people, addressing issues that really matter to them.
It’s a wonderful example of youth social action bringing the NHS Five Year Forward View to life, with the event leading to an ongoing commitment to work collaboratively with young people to continue to progress this agenda.
In October, Great Ormond Street NHS Trust hosted a meeting of NHS Youth Forums from across the country. At the event young people shared their experiences and ideas for making NHS services more young people friendly. The fact that so many young people offer their time to work together to raise their collective voice is really exciting. We are seeing more NHS youth forums emerging to support young people in having their voices heard.
Victoria’s Voice, a youth forum at Blackpool Hospital volunteer and run teaching sessions for medical staff on how to communicate with young people more effectively, it is highly regarded! Youth advocacy is an important aspect of youth volunteering that is flourishing.
Hull and East Yorkshire is a ‘bright spot’ too in ensuring that practical ‘hands on’ volunteering opportunities are accessible to all young people, including those who have additional support needs. Elliott, a young man with Asperger’s who volunteered with them and has now secured full time employment, said: “I feel much more confident since starting my volunteering and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people. I now feel comfortable getting on the bus on my own and I no longer worry about what people think. I feel that I have grown as a person and my self-esteem has grown immensely too.”
Thank you to all of the organisations and local leaders who champion and create opportunities to bring youth volunteering to life, you are changing life courses for the better.
So in the year ahead ‘I will’ keep championing the importance of us opening up opportunities to young people, it’s important for our young people and it’s a great way to grow our future workforce.
- #iwill week runs from 20 to 24 November.