East Renfrewshire Pupil Voices
We and colleagues from East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership and RAMH worked with pupils from 8 local high schools to find out how young people would like to get involved with their local health and social care services.
East Renfrewshire's Your Voice group wanted to involve more younger people in discussions about local services, and to find out what mattered to them about their health and wellbeing.
The work started in 2019, but the planned sessions for 2020 had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The project aimed to increase:
- the voice of young people in their local health and social care services
- their knowledge about organisations and health and care support services that are available to them
Working with some fantastic young people not only meant adapting our existing methods of engagement but co-creating methods that really interested them and furthered their knowledge. In the future we hope we can work with other local support services to build on this engagement with the schools.
Lorna Bonaccorsi-McILreavy, Engagement Officer
What we did
We adapted our Voices Scotland training programme and delivered sessions in each high school exploring how young people can have a say in local health and care systems. These sessions identified 5 themes that can support young people:
- a safe environment
- good communication
- having enough knowledge
- access to help and support
- not being judged
A "What matters to you?" event in June 2019 brought together 2 pupils and a teacher from each school. Attendees discussed the priority themes and identified the top 3 to focus on.
The young people designed posters to raise awareness of the issues and these were displayed in each of the schools.
After this initial event, regular Pupil Voice meetings were arranged to bring the young people together on an ongoing basis. Meetings would take place 4 times in the school year and would rotate around each of the schools. The pupils were involved in the planning, and pupils from the hosting school shared their health and wellbeing initiatives. The membership was increased to 3 pupils per school.
The method used to engage the pupils built on the learning from an earlier Scottish Health Council project to strengthen the voice of young people across Scotland. We took a national-led project and applied the learning, tools and approach to a local health and social care partnership area.
That project had identified top tips for meaningful engagement and open dialogue that we aimed to put into practice:
- Regular email contact between all partners
- Simple agendas were produced in partnership with pupils and shared in advance of the session
- Flash reports were created after each session and shared with all the schools
- Posters produced by the pupils were shared digitally and in hard copy with all schools
- Clear aims for each session, with a link to the priority themes
- A safe and non-judgemental environment
- Co-created group rules for involvement
- Variety of methods and tools to communicate, from interactive quizzes to group work
- Tired to incorporate a different method in each session to maintain interest
- Pupils appreciated coming together in non-competitive collaboration.
- Feedback showed pupils were learning and had increased their understanding of the services available to them.
- The findings from the priority themes were shared with the health and social care partnership Primary Care Management team.
- The posters were displayed in all 8 schools allowing for school specific support information.
- Local mental health support services information was created together and shared.
- Patients' Rights, confidentiality and your right to have a say were all discussed via an interactive quiz. This was also shared with the schools for use in Personal, Social, Health and Economic classes.
- COVID-19 lockdown meant that our planned sessions for March and June 2020 had to be cancelled.
- We had a number of issues with the taxi company we used to transport the pupils and their teachers.
- Flash reports and agendas weren't always shared with pupils in advance nor with the wider school population.
- Numbers were limited and many pupils felt it would be better to have more young people involved.
- The pupils who attended each meeting varied so there was a lack of consistency.
- The young people who took part tended to be very engaged in school life, higher attainers and from more affluent areas. It was more challenging to get representatives from young people who were less academic or from lower income areas.