In January 2019, Dudley Young Health Champions (DYHC) joined forces with Health Education England to pilot a youth programme as part of the national Citizenship Leadership programme. This programme aims to develop members of the community as leaders to effectively engage with health and social care decision makers.
A partnership was developed with Health Education England and Performing Perfectly, a theatre/life coaching company, to develop a programme that would enable young people with chronic health conditions and mental health challenges to share their life stories. These stories would also be available for other young people to learn from their experiences but also professionals and services targeted at young people.
Between March and September 2019, 10 young people participated in theatre skills-based workshops and one to one life coaching sessions to build their confidence. Most of the young people who took part had never spoken in public or had the opportunity to share their life experiences.
Using a mixture of approaches to storytelling including song, poetry, art and presentation, the young people had the opportunity to showcase their work with family and health professionals including the Director of Public Health, Dudley CCG and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust. The group opened a SEND conference in September 2019 which was attended by 200 members of the public and professionals.
“I never thought I would be able to be able to talk in front of so many people and now I hope that people give me the time to speak that I need.”
“To see the journey that these young people have been on is absolutely amazing to be part of, many of these young people have never had a voice and there is so much that we can all learn from the humbling stories that they have shared. As professionals, we need to recognise the role that citizens have in supporting our work and making sure that it is used to inform real practice.’’
Suzy Harris, Health Education England