There are young people among us – let’s celebrate their contribution to health and social care during the pandemic

Emma Rigby, George Fielding and Charli Clement

We are so excited to be celebrating the Power of Youth day and thinking about all things youth, health and social care!  We have been working together as the new chairs of the #iwill Health and Social Care Alliance since January this year.  Getting to know each other and working with an amazing group of young people and organisations that support youth social action has been a privilege.  Today we want to share some great examples of young people’s contribution to health and social care during the pandemic. We hope these examples inspire you to find out more and think about how you can support youth social action projects where you live and work.

In May we showcased examples of young people volunteering during Covid-19.  Otis (Y7), Zayd (Y13) and Suhail (Y9) shared their work at a local level with GreenSquareAccord in Birmingham.  They were part of the Youth Covid Challenge, a youth social action project commissioned by NHS England and Improvement. Young people volunteered to co-produce and promote Covid-19 public health messages which meant something for young people in their area.  Supported by Simarjeet Kaur*, the young people spoke about the importance of enjoying the experience, talking to like-minded people and creating a positive impact on their community.  They also learnt about people’s different experiences during the pandemic and the Among Us inspired poster was a hit.

The project really shows the importance and potential of projects at a local level. Young people know their patch. A young person’s school, youth club, GP surgery etc are likely to be in the same postcode; young people are naturally link workers, gluing the fabric and assets of their community together through their youth social action, using their energy and passion to invest in their communities.

At a national level Ellis and Mariam from St John Ambulance (@SJAYouthEng) shared the staggering work young people have been doing to support Covid-19 vaccination roll out.  Young people are training volunteers, volunteering as cadet demonstrators, and providing logistic support. Supported by Daniel Lyons, Ellis and Mariam and St John Ambulance have demonstrated how young people can volunteer at all levels in a health context in ways that are safe and meaningful.  The work is an example of how youth social action enables young people to engage and shape the healthcare services that they use; their voice and their action demonstrate a keenness to create proactive and inclusive services that are reflective of the diversity and richness in our country.

These projects are just two examples – there are many more.  #iwill supported the youth led #YoungPeopleMatter campaign which involved many young people and organisations in the first lockdown, discussing the work and sacrifices of young people in the pandemic.  Several #iwill Ambassadors were involved in the creation of youth friendly Covid-19 guidance alongside members of the NHS Youth Forum.  This was done with Public Health England and eventually published on the UK Government website. As we move to normality, we want to remember all the amazing action that young people have taken during the pandemic to improve things for their peers, their families and their communities.  On this journey we’ll be continuing to work together to keep celebrating our successes and striving for more young people to have opportunities to be involved in projects like these.  Our #iwill Health and Social Care Alliance meets four times a year – this year our priorities include Covid-19, social care, food poverty and health inequalities.

For more information: #iwill Campaign

Contact us: iwill@volunteeringmatters.org.uk

*Ed Baber and Sami Baloch also supported the young people during the Hall Green Communities project

Image showing a speech bubble. Text says: "Don't know what Among Us is? Just ask a young person you work with or in your family!"

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