Progress is health

Amplyifying young voicesin the NHS

As a sector with hugely diverse challenges, children and young people have long wanted to be a part of the solution to our most pressing health challenges.
Kath Evans

Kath Evans, Director of Children’s Nursing/Chair of the Children’s Board, Barts Health

The idea of involving young people to make a positive difference in healthcare has run through the whole of my career like a golden thread. If we engage children and young people in how we run our services and interventions, we get better outcomes. It’s as simple as that.When young people know that their voices are heard and their contributions are valued, it boosts their confidence and self-esteem. The NHS and public health also benefits from young people’s fresh ideas. They energise us, show us the art of the possible and encourage us to think creatively.

For example, young people are now delivering educational programmes in colleges and schools for Sexual Health Sheffield, which is resulting in better engagement and greater impact. Meanwhile, our Youth Empowerment Squad at Barts has worked with healthcare professionals to put together resources on COVID-19 for young people. When I first became aware of the #iwill campaign, a lot of good work was already happening to support young people volunteering in the NHS and public health. #iwill helped amplify that work, move it on to another level and make broader connections across different government departments. In particular, the support of the Pears #iwill Fund was instrumental in growing the role of youth volunteer coordinators across the NHS, and more volunteering opportunities were created for those under 18. As a result, Birmingham Women and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has now started a Junior Volunteer programme for 10-16 year olds. Looking ahead, there’s huge potential for more children and young people to volunteer with the NHS and beyond, particularly following the blueprint of the NHS Long Term Plan. I hope that Trusts across the country will lead and sustain the agenda so that we maintain the energy that the #iwill campaign has helped to create and sustain in the NHS.

The #iwill campaign built on great foundations in health and social care. Stimulating interest, involvement and collaboration, the campaign has grown youth voice and participation in the sector, including through the NHS Long Term Plan, a ten-year strategy that embeds youth social action into the NHS.
June 2015

Nesta, with funding from Dept. for Health, support four hospitals to expand the reach and impact of youth volunteering schemes, and to share the evidence of the impact that volunteering has had on patients and their families.

Find Out More
Sept 2015
Volunteering Matters

Volunteering Matters, supported by NAVSM, released the first addition of their Youth Social Action in Health & Social Care toolkit, bringing together practical examples and top tips on how to embed youth social action into health & social care settings

Read the report
May 2016
VCSE Report

NCVO published a report into the role of the Voluntary and Community Sector which stated that "All NHS settings [...] should develop more high-quality, inclusive opportunities for volunteering, particularly for young people and those from disadvantaged communities" Setting the foundations for work across leading health bodies for embracing the need to involve young people

View Report
November 2016
Pears Foundation

Pears Foundation, launched their #iwill Fund partnership to create the NHS Trust Young Volunteers Programme. Investing in 28 hospitals in England, and 1 in both Scotland and Wales, supporting NHS Trusts to embed young people into their volunteer programmes..

Quote: We funded a programme with the NHS to grow youth volunteering because it tied into our vision to foster the next generation of active citizens. This work simply wouldn’t have happened without the #iwill campaign. Firstly, the campaign provided the evidence that young people wanted to be more involved in the health and care sector. Secondly, it secured the match-funding from Government and the National Lottery. This combination gave us the additional confidence, leverage and ambition to move forward with this work. We’re delighted that the programme has been able to develop high-quality, inclusive, sustainable social action opportunities for so many young people within their local NHS.

Sir Trevor Pears CMG

About Programme
NHS70 Beacon Areas

As part of the NHS 70th Birthday celebration, seven Beacon areas were selected to develop a coordinated approach in a locality around the role of youth social action in health and care environments. This included encouraging healthcare organisations and communities to come together to inspire more youth social action for health, this work was supported by Pears Foundation & Eden Project.

Eden Project
Jan 2019
Long Term Plans

NHS Long Term Plan was published which included an explicit commitment around youth volunteering. Stating: "we will therefore encourage NHS organisations to give greater access for younger volunteers through programmes such as #iwill"

View Report
April 2019
NHS Voice Summit

The first ever NHS Youth Voice Summit was held. Co-designed and co-produced with young people. The Summit enabled young people and NHS staff to explore how the ambitions within the Long Term Plan can be achieved in collaboration with young people.

Jan 2020
Young voices heard

NHS England and NHS Improvement, along with Public Health England, created leadership roles for young people. This included: Gabrielle Mathews (#iwill Ambassador, NHS Youth Forum Alumni and a member of the NHS Assembly) and Brad Gudger (NHS Youth Forum alumni) becoming Youth Expert Advisors to the NHS; and Samya Sarfaraz (NHS Youth Forum) Mike Jones, Bridget Bould and Christopher Barton becoming full members of the national Children and Young People’s Transformation Board.

June 2020
Leadership Roles for Young People

The NHS and St John Ambulance joined forces to launch ‘NHS cadets’. A £6 million programme for 14-18 year olds, with the cadets working to help to improve care for patients while offering a route into health service employment for up to 10,000 young people by 2023.

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Those who took up the baton early are now growing the movement by championing youth social action to the wider sector.

Hospitals across the London area that have been funded by the Pears #iwill Fund teamed up with their young volunteers to create this video, championing young volunteering in the NHS and communities.

Quote Author
In the NHS young volunteers have made a significant contribution to the delivery of health and care services around the country. We recognise and celebrate the impact of the NHS Youth Forum, which has provided an opportunity for young people, particularly from low-income, diverse and ethnic minority backgrounds, to participate in and shape our governance and policy making.

By signing the Power of Youth Charter we are re-affirming the commitment of NHS England to listen, engage and empower children and young people. They are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they’re leading now.

Lord David Prior, NHS England

Lord David Prior, NHS England
Young people are leading the way in tackling our toughest health problems - throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond.

Campaigning for a Healthier Society

The heart of Bite Back 2030 is a Youth Board composed of passionate teenage activists from across the UK. They have focussed on campaigning for more opportunities to be healthy through pushing for change in the food system.

Volunteering through the Pandemic

Jamie Trusler

My name is Jamie Trusler and I’m 23 years old. During the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve beenworking full-time as a real-time intelligence evaluator for Leicestershire Police. In my spare time, I’ve worked with others to support local communities through the power of social Action.

First of all, in my volunteer role as a Special Sergeant for Leicestershire Police, I’ve accompanied non-independent Special Constables, helping to encourage people to follow the new coronavirus regulations.

I also volunteer as a Regional Youth Development Lead for St John Ambulance. Here I’ve been focusing on a different challenge: how to keep young people engaged at a time when they could no longer meet face-to-face. As a result, our team has established a regional youth forum and district forums that will review how to involve cadets more effectively during events.

Near the beginning of the pandemic, I started volunteering for a local resilience network that was supporting elderly and vulnerable people who were unable to shop for food or collect prescriptions. I delivered flyers to households in villages near me, helping to inform residents about the services on offer and asking for donations from anyone who was able to offer financial support.

Soon after that, I started helping out at a local food bank. People of all ages got involved, with the youngest volunteer just five years old and the oldest aged 67. It was really rewarding to deliver emergency food parcels to people who had been worried sick about the lack of food on their shelves.

The pandemic has been very hard for many of us, keeping us isolated from friends and family. But it has been really heartening to see so many volunteers, including a huge number of young people, freely giving their time to help others and make a difference.

The system is changing to include young people, instead of excluding them, and they now have more power to fight for the causes they believe in. We’ve come a long way in Health, but there’s still a challenge ahead…