Published On: Fri, Jun 6th, 2014 on 7:21 pm

YouthWatchers recognised for shaping local health services

YouthWatch Leeds

YouthWatch volunteers are engaged on health issues

A Leeds initiative that gives young people a voice about how to improve local health and social care services has been acclaimed for the work it does.

YouthWatch, a group of volunteers aged 16 to 25, feeds into the main board of the health and social care watchdog Healthwatch Leeds, enabling the organisation to talk to the youth across Leeds.

Now, other Healthwatch bodies in the UK have approached the initiative for advice and tips on recruiting, engaging and interacting with young volunteers.

Harriet Wright, a coordinator for volunteers at Healthwatch Leeds, said: “With 23% of the population of Leeds under the age of 19 it is vital that we listen to young people about issues relating to their physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

“YouthWatch gives young people a place where their views are listened to and where they feel comfortable to contribute.”

22-year-old student Rosie Brookes got involved with YouthWatch after she searched for volunteering as part of her university course in order to gain experience.

She is now a group representative on the main board where she and her fellow volunteers feedback views from the group and help inform and shape strategy.

She said: “I feel strongly about young people being able to have a positive influence on their communities and sometimes young people do not have a voice or the opportunity to make decisions around their own health and social care.”

YouthWatch volunteers are currently helping Healthwatch Leeds plan a programme over the summer in partnership with a charity named Young Minds for the annual festival, ‘Breeze on Tour’.

They are also working on a project on school nursing, where volunteers will be going into schools to talk to students about designs for a health drop-in.

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