On 15th October, Kate Martin, Me first Project Lead (Common Room), and James William Reid, Me first Project Developer, facilitated a session at the inaugural NHS Youth Forum Big Meetup – hosted by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust. The event bought together youth forums from across the country, all under one roof, to celebrate and promote the voice of children and young people – ensuring their UNCRC rights to have a voice and to be heard.
Me first was invited to deliver a workshop, introducing the Me first communication model and training. The room was full of inspired young activists, whom all feel passionate about securing the voice of children and young people and the role they play in decisions about their healthcare. We asked “what challenges and barriers do children and young people face, that prevent them feeling enabled to speak up?” Answers included:
- Being perceived as ‘difficult’ when speaking up or asking questions
- Healthcare professionals don’t create space for CYP to have a voice
- Other people in the room can sometimes take control, leaving CYP without a voice
- CYP feel anxious about talking about awkward / personal issues – often caused by embarrassment, fear, etc.
- Healthcare professionals are perceived as experts, by text book, and can make CYP feel uncomfortable about speaking up.
After discussing the barriers faced by children and young people, Kate and James explored with the young people top-tips and resources that can be used to enable children and young people to have a voice and to be heard – some ideas included:
- Creating a list of questions that CYP can bring to the appointment with them
- Using a red card system; a card CYP could hold up if unsure about something
- Healthcare professionals should provide CYP opportunities to speak alone
- Healthcare professionals shouldn’t assume what knowledge CYP have about their conditions
- Healthcare professionals should recognise that CYP are experts in their own bodies; they know what does / doesn’t work for them.
This first, of many, big meetups sets a great precedent for children and young people’s participation and we here at Me first were honoured to be involved. You can find more information about the day searching the hashtag #NHSCYPMeetup
Written by James William Reid | Me first Project Developer