Healthwatch Wiltshire has earned national recognition for a project which gave hundreds of young people a chance to speak up about their mental health.
The health watchdog picked up an award for Volunteering at the Healthwatch England conference in Stratford upon Avon on Wednesday 3 October, an event which brings together Healthwatch teams from across the UK.
In partnership with Youth Action Wiltshire, Community Organisers from Community First and local schools, Healthwatch mentored a group of students, supporting them to learn new skills and build confidence. Some of the students were trained to become Young Listeners, visiting schools and speaking to other students to understand their views on mental health.
Stacey Plumb, Interim Manager for Healthwatch Wiltshire, said: “We’re over the moon to win this award. We really enjoyed working with the students and would like to thank Youth Action Wiltshire, Community First and all the schools involved for helping us bring this project to life.
“The Young Listeners showed great dedication throughout this project and really listened to what other young people told them. There were also great benefits for the Young Listeners themselves, they learnt a lot and have grown and developed in confidence.
“The government has committed to spending £1.4 billion in children and young people’s mental health services over the next five years and, as more and more children are seeking support for their mental health, we wanted to know what young people want from these services.”
Students taking part in the project told Young Listeners they wanted:
- More opportunities to discuss their mental health and wellbeing
- Easily accessible and better health and wellbeing support within schools
- To be able to talk about their issues without judgement, and be respected by staff and professionals
- Shorter waiting times for support.
One student who trained to become a Young Listener said: “I’ve always wanted to do something that could benefit other people, and I’ve always wanted to give advice and help and learn new things.”
Another said: “I wanted to become a Young Listener so I could help young people if they have problems because I might have had some experiences that are close to theirs.”
Cleo Evans, from Youth Action Wiltshire, said: “We are delighted and proud to learn that the YouthWatch Project for Healthwatch Wiltshire has been recognised nationally by Healthwatch England.
“Healthwatch Wiltshire commissioned Community First and Youth Action Wiltshire to deliver a local programme that enabled us to develop and deliver a bespoke youth volunteering project that placed young people at its heart. For young people in Wiltshire, they have been given the opportunity to help shape the future by allowing young people to take ownership of how they should be supported in schools around their mental health and well-being.
“We have loved working with the young people who are the true heroes of this project.”
The project was undertaken by Healthwatch Wiltshire under our previous provider, Evolving Communities.
Celebrated every year, the Healthwatch England awards highlight how local Healthwatch across the country have helped make people’s views of health and social care services heard.
Liz Sayce, award judge and Healthwatch England Committee Member, said: “Healthwatch Wiltshire have this year demonstrated the real power of peer support. They helped young people who had experienced mental health challenges to grow in confidence through volunteering, learn how to support themselves, and how to help others too.”
Read more about the Young Listeners project on the Healthwatch Wiltshire website.
Take part in our survey
Healthwatch Wiltshire would like your views on mental health services in Wiltshire. Tell us about your experiences in our survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HealthwatchWiltshire-MentalHealthPriorities
Contact Linda Webb, Communications Lead:
07680 330391 or firstname.lastname@example.org