Young Healthwatch Westminster: what have we achieved this year?

2020 has been a busy year for us at Young Healthwatch Westminster. This year we have worked harder than ever to ensure that young people’s voices are heard to influence the design and delivery of mental health services across Westminster. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how important mental health services are. It has also shown us in detail where services need to improve.


As the year draws to a close, we are looking back at some of the highlights of our work over the last 12 months.


Our mental health survey


In April we launched our mental health survey. We wanted to find out how young people think about their mental health and what causes them stress. We wanted to know what knowledge young people have about local and national support. We also wanted to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on young people’s well-being.


Before the onset of the pandemic, we created a draft survey by discussing as a group of volunteers what issues are most pressing for us. After COVID-19 took hold, we added new questions so that we could find out what impact the pandemic was having on young people’s mental health.


We received a fantastic response to the survey. Over 200 young people responded and told us about their experiences.


In June, we published an interim report which discussed the results of the survey we had received. We also created an infographic to display our findings in a more colourful, visual way.


Through the survey we were able to learn so much about young people’s experience of mental health and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have shared some of these insights with decision makers at regional level, with local councils, NHS Trusts, Public Health England, and various community partners.


Our COVID-19 Q&A webinar


In July we partnered with Hammersmith and Fulham Volunteer Police Cadets, Kooth, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to run an online COVID-19 Q&A event. In the webinar, young people put their questions about COVID-19 to a panel of experts.


The event gave young people the opportunity to put their questions and concerns to experts and find out accurate, reliable information. A range of different questions and issues were discussed. These included questions on face masks in schools, the possibility of a second wave, the impact of a vaccine, the availability of mental health services and the safety of other medical treatments in hospitals during the pandemic.


One of our key roles at Young Healthwatch is to signpost young people to accurate information on health and social care services. We were delighted to collaborate with other local organisations to provide an innovative and informative webinar to help address young people’s questions and concerns about COVID-19!


Our appearances on One Community Radio


In May and October we went on CNWL’s One Community Radio show to share our work with residents, service users, NHS staff and community organisations.


In our first appearance, our volunteers Civan, Jane, and Rupert talked about the need to end stigma around mental health problems. We talked about the priority given to physical health over mental health, the benefits of psychotherapy and the need for greater mental health awareness for people of all generations. In our second appearance, we hosted an interactive quiz that debunked myths around various mental health conditions.


We have really enjoyed working with the One Community Radio team and finding new ways to communicate our messages about mental health to local people. It was a pleasure to be involved in the project!


Our work with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea youth councils


In November, we brought together Westminster Youth Council and Kensington & Chelsea Youth Council for the first (of hopefully many) bi-borough meetings. This meeting gave us the opportunity to hear from young people across the two boroughs. We found out how young people think about their mental health and what their experiences of mental health services have been.


Our chair, Civan, who also chairs the Westminster Youth Council, led the Mental Health session alongside our volunteer Aaniya. We enjoyed working alongside the Westminster lead, Shofa, and Reginald and Hasheam, who lead the RBKC Youth Council.


After the session, we were pleased to receive some lovely feedback. One member told us:


‘I found it interesting to see what everyone else thought of and I think I enjoyed it because it made me feel less alone even though these were not reflected on us it just helped to talk about it and reflect. I also think it made us think that everyone is going through something and lockdown has been hard on all of us and we should be kind to everyone not knowing what they are going through.’


We are looking forward to more joint bi-borough meetings in 2021.


Our work on Healthwatch’s Annual Meeting


Earlier this month three of our volunteers, Civan, Rupert and Ava spoke at Healthwatch Central West London’s Annual Meeting. They spoke about our work this year, their experiences volunteering for Young Healthwatch, why having good mental health services is important and how passionate they are to make positive change.


We received lovely feedback about our work and our volunteers from attendees at the meeting.  They told us how impressed they were with our work this year, and how much they enjoyed hearing from us at the meeting. We have exciting plans for the future to share our work widely with as many organisations and people as possible!


Thank you


We would like to say a massive thank you to all our volunteers for all their hard work, dedication and time in helping us achieve so much this year. All your work is greatly appreciated.


We would also like to say thank you to everyone who has worked with us, filled out our survey, shared their experiences with us, or reached out in any way.


We have exciting plans in place for 2021. We are looking forward to further campaigning to raise awareness of mental health issues and pushing for constructive change in mental health services.


Get in touch


If you are aged between 11 – 25 and live, work or study in or around the borough of Westminster, you can apply to join YHWW by emailing Alex on or call us on 020 8968 7049 and ask for an application form.


For more information, resources and guidance check out our Instagram @yhwwestminster and our webpage.

Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual Annual Meeting

Last week we were excited to host our first virtual Annual Meeting.


We brought together over 80 Healthwatch Central West London members, stakeholders, volunteers, staff, trustees, external colleagues and local people to present our annual report and showcase our work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though we could not meet in person, we had a fantastic turnout, and it was great to see so many familiar faces.


We normally hold our annual meetings in person. Last year we met at Kensington Town Hall. The Annual Meeting provides an opportunity to look back on our work, meet with local people and other colleagues and begin to plan for the future. This year, we had to find a new way to bring us all together and tell the story.


To do this, we worked with Anna Geyer, an artist from NewPossibilities, who created a visual record of our work on COVID-19 over the past nine months. We shared this with all attendees and talked about aspects of our work in detail during short discussion sessions during the meeting.


Anna’s illustration of our work on COVID-19


Who did we hear from?


At the meeting we heard short presentations from our chair Christine, our treasurer Layo, our CEO Olivia and Patient Participation Group Coordinator Odeta, who talked about our work on our COVID-19: Your Experience Matters survey. Carena, our Programme Manager, chaired the meeting.


We were delighted to also welcome Kiki, to talk about some of our collaborative work together.


Kiki is a member of Women’s Association for Networking Development (WAND), an organisation that works to empower women and address the problems facing women in isolated and excluded communities. This year we collaborated with WAND on some COVID-19 engagement work.  We ran a focus group to highlight the experiences of under-represented communities during the pandemic. In the meeting, Kiki talked about the challenges faced by BAME communities and the assistance that WAND provided.



Alongside Kiki, it was a pleasure to hear from Civan, Rupert, and Ava, three of our Young Healthwatch Westminster (YHWW) Volunteers. They talked about their experiences volunteering for YHWW and the group’s plans for next year.


Civan is the chair of YHWW and has been with the group for over a year.  In the meeting, Civan opened the discussion with his experiences in YHWW and his role in the Mental Health Survey. Working with YHWW on the design and creation of the survey, he discussed how crucial the survey was in capturing young people’s views on mental health and existing services.



Rupert, a volunteer of YHWW, spoke passionately about the YHWW mental health survey he has been involved in. In particular, he told us how much he enjoyed crunching the data and picking out trends in the survey. He spoke about going on CNWL’s One Community Radio show, sharing YHWW work with residents, service users, NHS staff and community organisations, and learning about the inspirational work being done in Westminster.



Ava, our newest volunteer of YHWW, gave an inspirational speech on the mental health campaign she’s been working on. She spoke about the different skills she has learnt during this process, and her appetite to make real change to mental health services. Her enthusiasm and passion to ensure the health needs of young people are properly addressed really shone through in her speech. We are proud to have such dedicated young volunteers as part of our organisation.



We would like to say a massive thank you to Kiki, Civan, Rupert, Ava, Christine, Layo, Olivia and Carena for speaking.


What did we talk about?


We are always looking to hear from people and learn about their experiences. As part of the meeting, we held short discussions in small groups to find out how attendees had managed during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they had engaged with us, what they thought we were doing well, and how they thought we could improve. Across the discussion groups, there were a number of recurring themes.


COVID-19 vaccines


Many attendees brought up concerns and questions relating to the COVID-19 vaccine. Attendees wanted to know more about any vaccine’s safety, how it has been developed, and how it works. Some attendees wanted to know how the NHS plan to roll-out the vaccine to the public, and what the schedule for this will be.


We have found that the topic of the vaccine is one that is often brought up by people in our recent engagement work. We know that it is a topic that is very important to local people. As the vaccine roll-out begins, we will communicate important information through our website, and will continue to listen to local people’s thoughts and experiences on the vaccine through our ongoing engagement on COVID-19.


Digital exclusion


Many attendees also brought up the topic of digital exclusion. Attendees told us that this year has brought the issue into focus. With more healthcare taking place virtually as a result of COVID-19, the exclusion of people who do not access healthcare digitally has increased.


Digital exclusion is important. We have begun significant work on this topic and will be able to share more details very soon.


Young Healthwatch Westminster


Many attendees praised our Young Healthwatch Westminster group. They talked highly of the work of the group, of the volunteers who presented at the meeting, and at our plans for the future. Some attendees told us that they would like to hear more from YHWW. We will be showcasing their work more over the coming months across our website, social media and in person!


Our recent engagement work


We were touched by the many attendees who praised our engagement work on COVID-19 over the past few months. Attendees told us the information we have provided through our reports, emails, website, and physical information packs was clear and useful. Since the pandemic began, we wanted to talk to as many people as possible, from across the local community, to help influence local health and social care provision during this period. As the pandemic progresses, we will continue this work, and continue to speak to people from across the community including to those who find it most difficult to be heard. We will continue to feedback our work and our findings as widely as possible.


Thank you


It was lovely to see so many people at our meeting. Thank you to everyone who attended for sharing their experiences and helping us with our work this year.


Olivia Clymer, our CEO, said:

“I was delighted and encouraged that so many people came along to our Annual Meeting. I know December is such a busy time with lots of competing demands on people’s time, so I want to say a big thank you to everyone who came. The insights we learned from our conversations at the meeting were so valuable and are already being shared.


Have a safe and peaceful Christmas.”


Get in touch


Take our updated ‘Coronavirus: Your Experience Matters’ survey now.

If you require the survey in a different format, or you would like a physical copy of the survey, please email us at

  • If you wish to just leave us a single comment on how you have been impacted by Coronavirus, please click here
  • Send a text or a video to our Whatsapp number: 07849 08 40 14
  • Join the conversation on our NextDoor group
  • Be part of our Facebook group
  • Talk to us on Twitter
  • Send us a picture that reflects how you are coping on our Instagram
  • Call us on 020 8968 7049

What have we learnt from recent engagement work on COVID-19?

Photo by Ayad Hendy on Unsplash

We have published a COVID-19 insight report in collaboration with Breathe Easy Westminster. The report highlights the impact of COVID-19 on those living with a long-term respiratory condition.


When the pandemic took hold earlier this year, we wanted to reach people in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea who are under-represented in conversations about health and social care and ensure their voices are heard during this challenging period. To do this, we collaborated with local community groups to run focus group sessions, interviews, and surveys. Our latest report presents the results of a survey carried out with Breathe Easy Westminster.


A number of recurring issues and themes have emerged over the course of our collaborative work on the impact of COVID-19. Many of these themes were seen in our work with Breathe Easy Westminster.


Digital exclusion


The issue of digital exclusion has been frequently discussed across much of our recent engagement work on COVID-19.


Evidence in our report shows that the issue of digital exclusion is complex. There are many obstacles to digital exclusion, and many ways people may be digitally excluded. People may be able to access emails on their smartphone, for example, but lack the knowledge or support to be able to use the internet to find information or to communicate with healthcare providers.


In our survey with Breathe Easy Westminster, we asked respondents how they found the support they needed. At 44%, the phone was significantly the most popular method of seeking support. Around a fifth of respondents (21%) searched the internet, while a similar number (18%) received emails. It was particularly interesting to learn that significantly more people used the phone for information than the internet.


‘How did you manage to find the support needed?’


Digital exclusion is an important issue. At the moment we are working on a project to engage further with the issue in the coming months.


Visibility of services


Another recurring issue throughout our engagement work concerns patients’ awareness of local services. A high number of participants across all our recent work have been unaware of all the services and care options which are available to them.


For instance, respondents to our survey with Breathe Easy Westminster were asked whether they were aware of social prescribing, the Care Information Exchange and Coordinate My Care. In all cases, two-thirds of respondents were not aware of these services.


‘Have you heard of social prescribing?’


Availability of prescription medicine


A further key issue highlighted through our survey work with Breathe Easy Westminster was the availability of prescription medication and non-emergency care during the pandemic. Across our engagement work, although the majority of patients we have heard from have been able to access prescription medication during this period, we have still heard from many people who have had trouble receiving the medicine and support they need.


In our survey with Breathe Easy Westminster, we asked respondents if they had faced difficulty accessing regular medicine from their local or hospital pharmacy. the majority of respondents (86%) indicated that they had no problem accessing regular medication. However, over 10% of respondents had experienced difficulty. The accessibility of prescriptions remains an important issue.


‘Have you had any problems with obtaining regular medication from your local or hospital pharmacy?’


From listening to local people over the past few months, we have been told of huge access barriers to health and social care services that remain in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea. As we move into a new phase of measures to contain and treat COVID-19, it is vital that the voices of patients and carers are heard. We will continue to engage with local communities, share what people are telling us, and present what we have learnt in order to influence the provision of local health and social care services.


You can read the full report now. We would like to say a massive thank you to Breathe Easy Westminster for their hard work on this project.


Get in touch

Take our updated ‘Coronavirus: Your Experience Matters’ survey now.

If you require the survey in a different format, or you would like a physical copy of the survey, please email us at

  • If you wish to just leave us a single comment on how you have been impacted by Coronavirus, please click here
  • Send a text or a video to our Whatsapp number: 07849 08 40 14
  • Join the conversation on our NextDoor group
  • Be part of our Facebook group
  • Talk to us on Twitter
  • Send us a picture that reflects how you are coping on our Instagram
  • Call us on 020 8968 7049