Young people will be given an opportunity to have a real say on health and social services across Northumberland by joining a new youth board.
County Councillor Scott Dickinson, who chairs the new Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board, has revealed his intention to establish a similar panel of youths aged between 11 and 19 who would be given a voice.
Speaking at the launch of his new board in Berwick, Councillor Dickinson outlined his plan for a group of 12 to 15 young people around the county who would form a board of their own to regularly discuss, debate and influence decision-making across the county.
The idea emerged from an exercise in December when 40 students turned the tables on Northumberland’s health and social care bosses by questioning them on a range of issues about health and associated services.
“It was a fantastic exercise particularly in terms of seeing young people’s enthusiasm and gaining invaluable insight into their perspective,” said Councillor Dickinson.
“We would like to create a young persons’ health and wellbeing board – or whatever they want to call it. What we learned is that young people would like something like that in terms of health.
“Young people often feel that we ask them things – and they never hear from us again. So we would make sure we feed back to them by being part of their own board.”
Coun Dickinson emphasised the importance of involving young people from the north of the county in the new project. “Just because you’re furthest away doesn’t mean we want to hear what you have to say,” he added.
“When it comes together we’ll tour it round the county so that is accessible to all.”
Coun Dickinson said the launch of Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board itself was held at the Swan Centre in Berwick to make sure the north of the county felt “included”.
He explained: “When decisions are made in county hall Berwick often feels isolated. This is about health and wellbeing throughout the whole of the county, so we thought we’d come to the furthest away town to launch the board and make sure Berwick feels included.
“The board has been established to improve the health and wellbeing of residents and to reduce inequalities by bringing together organisations involved in health services, adult social care and children’s services by encouraging better partnership working.”