Embed and Extend by Elizabeth Harding

Liz HardingI am sitting in a hotel lobby listening to young people talking about how important it is that they are heard and that they know what happens to their views and opinions.

"No-one really listens to young people and they should". We are here as tomorrow morning they are all going to the House of Commons to debate the five topics decided through the Make Your Mark ballot. Make Your Mark is the largest youth consultation in the UK, this year over 865,000 young people have had their say. They are listened to and (following a day of debate) the topic with the most votes becomes the campaign issue for the UKYP and young people next year. The young people will be very motivated as they have led the process.

School Nurses get that and are finding all sorts of ways to listen in their own settings. Being part of the work to get children and young people involved in the School Nurse programme from the initial consultation that resulted in the two reports "Our School Nurse" and "Someone We Know and Trust", on to the development of the School Nurse Champions programme and beyond has been a great experience.   One of the joys is that it is an ongoing programme, not a one off that quickly moves onto something else.

There have been some great experiences along the way, meeting so many committed people and the fascinating conversations that have challenged and made me think. Embed and extend could be the words to describe the ambition for many and the reality for some. It is often hard in times of change to take on something else new, something that has resource implications and requires thinking about, planning and learning new skills. "How do we fit it into the day job?".

Many are doing it already. I found School Nurses to be very enthusiastic adopters of social media, always looking for ways to harness it's power. School Nurses gave me my first experience of a tweet chat - that was fast, furious and exciting; I nearly needed a lie down in a darkened room to recover. But as we noted during the ‘chat’ digital contact is one way of working and what young people value most is someone to talk to.

It is important to listen to young people and to act on what they say and the School Nurse Champions project is a support package to make that happen. A School Nurse Champion is a young person who volunteers to give advice to their School Nurse Service to help improve the services young people receive in their area. They find out what other young people think about what is on offer and how to make it better and work with deliverers and or commissioners to devise and advise on any changes they should make.

What has been great about working with Wendy Nicholson from the Department of Health and the school nurses is the appetite to learn, the appetite to change and the appetite for service improvement. The best bit of all is getting young people involved and working with them to offer solutions and improve services.


For further information on the School Nurse Champion Programme please contact David Clark, British Youth Council on or call 020 7250 8380 or Elizabeth Harding, North West Regional Youth Work Unit on 01744 810838

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