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Young Listeners

Young Listeners - Advancing Mental Health in Schools

2017/18 Engagement Project

Working with Community First and Youth Action Wiltshire, we are working with 6 schools to deliver a YouthWatch Wiltshire mental health outreach and support programme.

Feedback from engagement carried out last year has shown that mental health and health in schools are important issues for young people. These themes are the focus for 2017.

YouthWatch Wiltshire will offer the opportunity to hear young people’s views on a range of current mental health and psychosocial concerns including:

2 students from 6 schools in Wiltshire to take part in a 6 week Personal Development Programme between June-July 2017.

The programme will be conducted by trained YouthWatch Wiltshire and Youth Action Wiltshire staff and transport will be provided. This unique Personal Development Programme will support young people in a number of ways including:

Events and Activities

Once the students have been selected, they would need to attend the Personal Development Programme which is 1 x 2 hour session each week for 6 weeks. Following the Personal Development Programme, the young people may also be invited to take part in the Splash! summer programme from Youth Action Wiltshire Splash! activities take place during July and August and aim to enhance leadership skills for the students who will be representing their school as a future YouthWatch Wiltshire Young Listener and who will carry out Listenings in their school. Once the accredited programme has been completed, young people will also have the chance to gain personal development and leadership skills through a specialist volunteering programme.

Safeguarding & Support

The safety and wellbeing of the young people who take part in this programme is of vital importance to us. All young people selected to take part will need signed permission from a parent or legal guardian. We will ensure that all young people who take part are fully trained and properly supported by qualified staff, particularly in relation to safeguarding and managing difficult situations. The young people will also have an individual support ‘tutor’ who will be there to listen to and respond to any issues that they may encounter in their learning journey; and in turn support them to help others tackle their own concerns, by signposting them to a responsible adult or other professional if needed.

YouthWatch Wiltshire Young Listeners Training

The final stage of the programme is a YouthWatch Wiltshire Young Listeners training programme which features engaging activities and listening skills training for the young people taking part. This specialist training has been developed by YouthWatch Wiltshire, working closely with qualified Community Organisers and Youth Leaders at Youth Action Wiltshire. The training will equip young people with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to become Young Listeners.

Weekend Residential

As part of the YouthWatch Wiltshire Young Listeners project, the young people will be invited to attend a free weekend residential which is 2 days training at Oxenwood Education Centre in Marlborough. The residential will help the young people taking part to develop a number of useful skills.
As well as developing useful skills through training, the young people will also have the chance to take part in exciting team-building and trust exercises.

Young Listeners

2016/17 Engagement project

What better way to find out what children and young people think about health and care services than by inviting them to speak to a specially trained ‘Young Listener’? During 2016 Healthwatch Wiltshire worked with Youth Action Wiltshire on this innovative approach to engagement. A team of Young Listeners were supported to find out about what it is like to be a young carer, live with a special educational need, or with mental ill-health.

What we did

Working with Youth Action Wiltshire and Community First’s Community Organisers we trained a group of 10 young people (aged 16 – 18) to become Young Listeners. They carried out training in listening skills, community organising skills and safeguarding and were supported to carry out listenings with other children and young people. The Young Listeners worked together to develop questions that they would ask.

They were supported to visit youth groups and clubs run by Youth Action Wiltshire to listen to the views of young people. They chose their listening style to suit the ages of those they were listening to for example, having a conversation with older young people and by creating a board game to play with younger children and encouraging them to draw pictures of their experiences. After each listening, the Young Listeners had a chance to reflect and report on what they had heard.

The project was so successful that it was nominated for a prestigious Children and Young People Now! Award in the ‘Youth Volunteering and Social Action’ category.

What we found out

  • Children and young people want to be seen as individuals and treated with respect.
  • Many young people felt that the waiting time for an appointment after being referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) was too long.
  • Young people felt that they weren’t being listened to and said that they found it unhelpful seeing different mental health professionals each time.
  • Some young people said that they did not know where to go for advice on either physical health or mental health in schools.

What we will do next

We will work together with the Young Listeners to share what they have heard with the commissioners and providers (the people who plan, pay for and run services) of services so that the voices of the children and young people who spoke to the Young Listeners can help shape services in the future.
The Young Listeners will also carry out further listenings looking at some of the key messages that were heard. These will focus on:

  • Health in schools
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing

Young Listeners report

Listening to Children and Young people: Your Experience of Health and Social Care
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Young Listeners blog

Have a read of the Young Listeners blog!
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