The role of the Youth Sector and VCS in Supporting Young People’s Health

In November I briefly wrote about the work of Young People Cornwall (YPC), how youth participation is central to all they do and the positive impact investing in youth voice has been to the success of the organisation, even in the tough economic climate in which we are all operating. YPC are a testament to user-designed services, which are universally recognised by organisations across the globe as essential to successfully launching, marketing and popularising products and services (1). So in youth health week it is only fitting to recognise the work health agencies and clinical groups are doing in partnership with young people to ensure services are fit for purpose.

Designing health services for young people is most effective when agencies work with colleagues who specialise in youth participation. As with YPC, the organisations that support such work are from the youth sector and in many cases are voluntary sector organisations. Without the investment from these organisations, youth participation would have little or no infrastructure to support the process, therefore, reducing the impact on the agencies and young people engaging in the activity.

Effective and meaningful youth participation has one of three attributes: it can be consultative; it can entail youth-led participation, where young people have a direct impact on decision-making within their own youth communities; and finally, it can involve youth collaborative participation, where young people effectively take part in regular decision-making processes (2), empowering them to support the development of effective provision.

The benefits to health agencies are multiple, for example, services are more appropriately constructed, communicated and delivered making them more accessible to young people. The added value is that young people emerge more skilled, better connected and ready to become active, productive members of society (3).

The valuable partnership of health agencies, youth sector organisations and young people should be celebrated. It has helped raise awareness of issues, highlighted problems with current services and helped to improve accessibility and appropriateness of services. The sector should be proud of how it continues to invest in youth participation and persist in its advocacy of involving young people in the decision-making process whether within health services, democracy or social action.

Related Reading:

  1. Customer Experience Is the Future of Design
  2. Youth, political participation and decision-making                                                                                                       
  3. Youth-led social change: Topics, engagement types, organizational types, strategies, and impacts