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 alex.weston@healthwatchcentralwestlondon.org 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.