Camden young people help launch new report on adolescent health

Last night [28 November], Camden Council launched its annual health report on adolescent health at an event organised by local young people aimed at raising awareness of the issues they are facing.

Each year, every Director of Public Health publishes an independent annual report focusing on a particular health and wellbeing issue affecting local communities. This year, their report focuses on adolescent health and the issues that young people are facing in the borough.  

The report was officially launched yesterday at ‘Step into Our Shoes’, an event at LABS in Bloomsbury which was curated by ‘Camden Youth: Tell Them’, a group of local young people aged 16-21 to explore young people’s health across the borough and beyond.

Camden Youth: Tell Them co-produced ‘Step into Our Shoes’ as their response to this year's annual public health report. At this event they launched a graphic novel they created to illustrate key findings from the report and invited local decision makers and health partners to take a walk-in young people’s shoes and to commit to working together to improve adolescent health in Camden.

Activities at the event included sports, affirmation writing, a wordsearch challenge and audio recordings of young people’s experiences of living in Camden as part of the safety and violence zone. At the long-term conditions zone, young people challenged guests to test their lung capacity as part of an experiment on asthma to map lung capacity in Camden by postcode.

Guests were also asked to vote for which is the most pressing issue for young people’s health in the borough – physical activity, food and healthy weight was voted first, with mental health and safety and violence tied in second place.

Camden Youth: Tell Them also held the Council and partners to account in a lively panel discussion, asking questions including ‘what’s the first thing you're going to do after this event to address the findings of the annual public health report?' alongside other discussions exploring ways to improve health and wellbeing for young people in Camden.

Panel members included Kirsten Watters, Camden’s Director for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Sabrina Francis, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Young People and Culture, Nigel Robinson, the Head of Sports and Physical Activity at the Council and Chaima Hale, Start Well Clinical Lead for Camden.

Camden Youth: Tell Them

We’re glad that the Council are shining a light on these issues that are so important for us and other people our age. While some of the findings were expected, reading the report showed some of the harsh realities for young people in Camden and the need for urgent change. Through working on Step into Our Shoes we found out more about the services for adolescents in Camden and hope that more young people can find out about them and get the help they need when they need it.

We hope that our perspectives can help the Council and other influential organisations in our borough come up with new ideas and solutions to challenges – because we know what it’s like to be a young person in Camden. The majority of decisions that the Council makes affect young people whether that’s now or in the future, so it makes sense that we have a say. We hope that young people’s voices continue to be a part of the conversation.

Camden Youth: Tell Them
Councillor Anna Wright, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care

The ‘Step into Our Shoes’ event was a fantastic opportunity to put young people’s voices at the heart of this report and to hear first-hand their ideas on how the Council, local decision makers and health colleagues can address the issues raised in the report. Following the pandemic, and now being in a cost-of-living crisis, we know many of our young people are struggling, and our priority in Camden is to do everything we can to improve health support services and provision for young people which will make a real difference now and in the future.

Councillor Anna Wright, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care
Councillor Sabrina Francis, Cabinet Member for Young People and Culture

All the young people involved did a fantastic job at raising awareness of the challenges they are facing. We will continue to work with Camden Youth: Tell Them to bring young people’s perspectives to decisions made about health and wellbeing for under 25s in our borough to the forefront.

Councillor Sabrina Francis, Cabinet Member for Young People and Culture
Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

Ensuring we have the best possible support in place for our young people is a priority for the Council. It was moving to be part of an event which highlighted the issues young people are facing from their perspectives and to discuss ways we can improve our services alongside local health partners and decision makers.

Councillor Marcus Boyland, Cabinet Member for Best Start for Children and Families

The creation of the graphic novel and co-production of the ‘Step into Our Shoes’ event by Camden Youth: Tell Them was part of a paid training programme established by the Council in response to findings in the annual public health report which highlights the importance of quality training and employment for young people’s health.

Key themes that were discussed at the event included young people's safety, mental health and wellbeing, healthy eating, the cost-of-living crisis, body image and inequalities facing young people.

Over 100 guests attended the event which included a mix of young people, decision makers and health partners from Camden.

Read the full report.