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New £1.2m initiative to ‘inspire national conversation’ about prioritising young people’s wellbeing

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A new programme addressing Young people's wellbeing and mental health will launch in Q3 2021 in all secondary schools across Greater Manchester, UK.

The Greater Manchester Young People's Wellbeing Programme – named #BeeWell – will last three years and annually capture data on tens of thousands of young people’s wellbeing through a standardised online survey.

Participating schools will receive confidential reports and insights to inform and complement the work they already undertake to support their pupils’ wellbeing.

The framework will help schools and localities identify needs, inform decision-making about priorities for action and evaluate the success of their efforts.

#BeeWell’s objectives are to improve young people’s wellbeing across Greater Manchester and, in due course, inspire a national conversation about rebalancing the UK education system so it treats wellbeing as an outcome equal and complementary to academic attainment.

The initiative has been launched following a successful £1.2m (€1.4m, US$1.7m) fundraising effort by The University of Manchester, The Anna Freud Centre, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and The Gregson Family Foundation.

The survey will gather data surrounding young people’s:

  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Stress and coping
  • Social interaction and support
  • Life readiness (including life skills, worries and future careers plans)
  • Health behaviours (such as physical activity)
  • Socio-economic factors (including poverty)
  • Activity during lockdown periods.

Crucially, other stakeholders within and beyond Greater Manchester will be able to take advantage of the data #BeeWell generates.

Organisers say #BeeWell will be crucial in light of the pandemic, as it's still not widely understood how the crisis has affected young people’s wellbeing and mental health.

Even in 2019, research from the Programme for International Student Assessmen organisation showed that of 79 countries surveyed, adolescents in the UK were in the bottom four in terms of life satisfaction.

David Gregson, chair of the #BeeWell Advisory Board, said: “#BeeWell has been driven by the need to embrace the voices of young people in shaping their, and the nation’s, future.

“We’re determined to provide critical insights into young people’s lives and inspire a wide coalition of actors in neighbourhoods across the city region to take targeted action. We want the wellbeing of young people across Greater Manchester, and the entire country, to be everyone’s business.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, alongside the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and The University of Manchester, will drive efforts in the coming months to secure the participation of as many of the region’s 267 secondary schools as possible.

Subject to significant numbers of schools participating, #BeeWell partners will also mobilise communities by providing insights into the experiences of young people across Greater Manchester’s 60 neighbourhoods.

#BeeWell will build on the foundations of the GM Life Readiness Survey and The National Lottery Community Fund’s HeadStart Programme, a £67.4m (€78m, US$95.1m) mental health initiative which has already gathered data on 100,000 young people from 300 English schools in the past five years.

Fundraisers behind the programme exceeded their targets, securing financial support from five funders in addition to commitments from the original #BeeWell partners.

These include grants from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Holroyd Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund, The Oglesby Charitable Trust and The Peter Cundill Foundation.

As the recovery agenda takes off, #BeeWell has garnered significant interest from grant-giving institutions and other groups.

As a result, the original #BeeWell partners will now explore further fundraising for additional activities to embed within the programme, in order to enhance its effectiveness and impact.

For more information about the #BeeWell programme, visit its official website.

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A new programme addressing young people's wellbeing and mental health will launch in Q3 2021 in all secondary schools across Greater Manchester, UK.