Campaign volunteers from Right Here Brighton and Hove have received an award from IARS, a leading youth policy charity, for their research into young people's experiences of visiting GPs about their mental health and wellbeing. Dakota Glasgow-Simmonds, a youth volunteer for Right Here Brighton and Hove, writes about the research project and the team's experience of receiving an award.
Right Here Brighton and Hove is one of four partner projects of Right Here, a joint initiative of PHF's Social Justice programme and the Mental Health Foundation, to improve the mental health of young people by developing new methods of providing support.
On Thursday 9 August 2012 Jake Gearty, Ryan Byrne and myself, all Right Here Brighton and Hove youth volunteers, travelled up to London to receive a second place award in the IARS national researcher of the year award. This was in acknowledgement of our recent research into GP services for young people (in particular regarding the accessibility and treatment of mental and emotional wellbeing issues), that we as Right Here Campaigns Volunteers had carried out in Brighton and Hove.
The youth volunteers received their award at a ceremony in London
The trip and the awards ceremony was a great day out, involving a comfortable venue and a lovely meal! It is an honour for all of us to see the recent work of the Campaigns Team to be accredited with a national award, especially after all our commitment and hard work to collect, analyse and disseminate our findings.
The award ceremony was the first of the IARS (Independent Academic Research Studies) annual Research and Leadership Awards cultivated in response to the 2011 summer riots in order to recognise young people and other community members who are dedicated to the IARS mission to allow everyone to be actively involved in solving social problems and thus create 'a safer, fairer and more inclusive society.'
The award we received was in recognition of the research the Right Here Campaigns Volunteers had carried out in Brighton and Hove, to investigate young people's experiences of visiting their GP practices and how GPs could improve their services for young people. In early 2011, over a period of several months, we carried out multiple focus groups with a wide demographic of young people (over 170 individuals). Our focus groups allowed us to collect a variety of information regarding GP services and experiences as a whole. We found many young people had lots of positive experiences when visiting their GP service but we also discovered that there were consistent areas highlighted by the young people which were felt to be regularly lacking. This information was then collated and written up into both a short and long report, which can be found on the Right Here website.
In April 2012 our research findings and recommendations were presented to a number of important individuals, some from Brighton and Hove's GP-led Clinical Commissioning Group. This initial presentation led to the wider recognition of our work and eventually our IARS award!
Jake, Ryan and I collected the award together and Ryan gave a short speech describing our delight and the ins and outs of research. However, this award is not the end of our work. Although, the actual study has ended, the use of this research and the positive response from local GPs and members of the Clinical Commissioning Group has led to the development of an action plan, which includes: The development of a panel of 'young experts' to facilitate further consultation around health issues for young people in Brighton and Hove - Right Here volunteers aim to support consultation processes with young people in the community around health issues; and the involvement of young people in GP training. Currently we are working on addressing the issues of confidentiality, young people knowing their rights, and how to make the most of an appointment with your GP, through a short film. Hopefully our actions will assist in creating a better experience for young people.
Overall it was a very enjoyable trip up to London to collect our first award for the Right Here Campaigns Team and hopefully it won't be our last as we have a host of exciting new projects and initiatives we are currently working on!