Young people in Sefton tell decision makers about their lives during COVID-19

Young people from Sefton came together with key decision makers in the first ever virtual SYMBOL meeting which involved 50 participants.

Being a member of SYMBOL (Sefton Youth Making Better Opportunities with Leaders) means a young person plays an active role in their community, with a direct line of communication with leaders such as councillors and senior managers at Sefton Council, and also with partners including representatives from Public Health.

Sefton Young Advisors ‘takeover’ at South Sefton CCG and Southport & Formby CCG

Young Advisors from Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) took control of a high level engagement meeting at NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG to mark the launch of the Children’s Commissioner for England’s Takeover Challenge 2016.

Six young people from Sefton Young Advisors led a meeting of the CCGs’ joint Engagement and Patient Experience Group (EPEG) on 18 November and took over the CCGs’ twitter accounts at the same time.

Ryan McCarthy, aged 17, a Sefton Young Advisor who attended the session, said: “It was great to be given the chance to come into the CCGs and speak to people from our local NHS. It matters for us what happens to healthcare in Sefton in the future and how we are engaged with so we really welcomed the opportunity.”

The CCGs’ EPEG meetings aim to ensure that local people’s voices of all ages are heard and considered when planning local healthcare and that there are effective channels of communication and networks in place to enable this to happen.

EPEG brings the CCGs together with partners from Sefton Council, Sefton CVS, Healthwatch Sefton and Sefton Carers Centre to encourage borough residents to get involved in their local NHS, and a Young Adviser has recently joined the group.

In addition to regular EPEG members, representatives from organisations that directly provide health services, like Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, were also invited to come along.

Ryan continued: “I hope it was useful for the CCGs for us to take over their meeting and that they got some ideas from us about how best to engage with young people across Sefton. We look forward to working more with the CCGs in the future.”

The session started off with an ice breaker to get everyone to know each other before presenting their views about how best to engage with young people like themselves. Some of their top tips to involve young people were don’t use jargon or acronyms, never assume and always ask for their opinions and always keep them informed and included.

A video was also shown by The Camhelions, a group of young people who champion youth mental health in Sefton, about the transition from children’s to adult’s mental health services. The video can be viewed here

Debbie Fagan, chief nurse and lead for children’s services at the CCGs, said: “It’s so important that we engage with young people and what better way to find out what works best than from the young advisers themselves.

“We value their input and there were some great ideas from them at the meeting that we’ll certainly be taking on board. I hope it was useful for them as well to understand a bit more on how the local NHS works. We are particularly looking forward to working in partnership with the young advisors to target the hard to reach and more vulnerable children which is really important to the CCGs.”

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “Takeover Challenge goes from strength to strength every year, with tens of thousands of children across England now taking part. I am enormously grateful to organisations and individuals who embrace the challenge and throw open their doors to involve young people.

“Young people are full of fresh ideas, imagination and energy so they can really provide a fresh perspective that organisations can benefit from. Giving children and young people a chance to do adult roles for the day helps organisations understand the needs of children, who also use the experience to show off their talents and achieve their full potential.”

Takeover Challenge is a country-wide event run by the Children’s Commissioner for England which gives children the opportunity to step in the shoes of adults at work.

The Challenge has grown year-on-year with more than 45,000 children from all over the country taking part in 2016. Organisations and individuals who get involved include major broadcasters, government departments, a West End theatre and MPs.

Double National Awards Success for Sefton Young Advisors

A project which enables the voices of young people in Sefton to be heard in community life has landed two top national awards.

Members of the Sefton Young Advisors (YAs) team are celebrating after their Co-ordinator Laura Goad was honoured as YA Lead of the Year, and they also collected the Community Project of the Year award for an initiative with Sefton Council.

Both awards were presented at the recent AGM and conference of the national Young Advisors charity held at Hope Valley in Derbyshire.

The Young Advisors – based at the Waterloo HQ of charity Sefton CVS – are trained consultants aged from 15-23 who help organisations to understand the interests of young people, and how to get their message across to them in a more youth-friendly way.

They also help agencies to ‘youth proof’ the way they operate, and to attract and maintain the interest of young people in their work.

According to the award citation, Laura Goad was recognised for her outstanding leadership, her inclusive approach and her commitment to the YA team members, both in and out of work.

Meanwhile, the Young Advisors received the second award for their consultation work around Sefton Council’s 2030 vision for the borough.

This involved adapting the vision kit to make it accessible for a younger audience, and consulting with more than 200 children and young people aged from four years old upwards, including those with additional needs and looked-after children.

Sefton CVS Chief Executive, Angela White, commented: “To win these two prestigious awards is a fantastic achievement and I would like to congratulate Laura and the whole of the Young Advisors team on their success”.

“I am delighted that their creativity and hard work has been recognised at national level in this way,” added Mrs White.

Sefton Council Chief Executive Margaret Carney said “It’s fantastic to be recognised for what you do and an added bonus to be given an award. Thanks for all your hard work – it is really valuable and your input will really shape the borough.