Sheffield youth forum celebrates five years
Youngsters in Sheffield are celebrating the fifth birthday of a group which works to give them a voice and shape health services for children and young people in Sheffield and beyond.
The Sheffield Children’s Youth Forum is for young people aged between 12 and 19.
Every member of the forum has some direct experience of Sheffield Children’s Hospital as a patient or sibling of patients.
Members have helped to decide on the design of new hospital wards, chosen new entertainment for long stay patients, created new support resources for siblings and even sit on interview panels for key trust roles.
While helping make a difference, they also get to learn new skills, build their confidence, make new friends. One even credits being part of the Youth Forum as helping them get their university place.
Members also take part in other activities outside of meetings, like visiting services, taking part in judging panels or interview panels, or giving feedback on specific projects. They’re often a key part of interviews and judging the hospital’s staff Star Awards.
Most of the members have a special connection with the hospital as they have been visiting a long time.
And they say that being a youth forum member feels like a way they can give something back, and allows them to use their experiences in a positive way.
One of the members, Florence, said: “It is a really good group. I feel because I have to attend the hospital, especially during Covid, I can feel very isolated, so I feel the group is a good way of communicating with other young people in the same position as me.”
And another, Peter added: “The youth forum helps improve and develop new life skills such as team building, team work and how to be involved in sensible debating. And I feel like if I say something in this group, something gets done.”
Senior people in the hospital and the rest of the trust take what members of the forum say seriously and also come to listen to them at forum meetings – including the acting chief executive Ruth Brown, director of nursing Sally Shearer and medical director Jeff Perring.
Forum member Freya said: “I am so glad I joined the group, I have gained so much confidence and lifelong friends. The forum has provided me with so many invaluable opportunities.
"I've particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Psychology Department and these experiences were not only very enjoyable but also helped to solidify my decision to study Psychology at university.”
And another member Ruthie added: “After transitioning to adult hospital it is nice to know I have left a mark through the work I have done with the youth forum. It is nice to see things happen and change that we have been involved in and to give back to the hospital. The group gets stuff done.”
To find out more about the Youth Forum and how to become a member, email Nat on [email protected], call 0114 3053768 or visit www.sheffieldchildrens.nhs.uk/yf