30 November 2017
On 30th November 2018, the Mayor of London’s Better Health for All Londoners: London Health Inequalities Strategy consultation closed.
London Youth has seven key messages that we would like to communicate to the Mayor on this strategy:
- Explicitly addressing young people’s needs: The Mayor’s strategy has very little explicit mention of the health needs of young people, as distinguished from those of children. Young people – we mean those between the ages of 8 and 24 years old – face a range of barriers to happy and healthy lives in London. These health needs and inequalities deserve to be directly addressed by the Mayor.
- Complex and changing needs: The needs of young Londoners increasingly reflect a complex and changing world. To address health inequalities, the Mayor should prioritise approaches that address multiple needs and provide holistic solutions. Institutions and programmes should be encouraged to work and partner outside of their habitual siloes.
- Beyond the usual systems: While acknowledging the huge benefit of their services, the Mayor should look beyond the justice, education, and health systems to address health inequalities. Just because these systems are the familiar levers for government intervention, it does not mean that they are necessarily the best vehicles for change in all cases. Youth organisations are a constant in many young people’s lives; for example, they provide a continuous relationship during the transition between primary and secondary school, or between GP visits, or between dealings with the police. Youth organisations provide an alternative opportunity for engagement and positive change, away from school and family. Youth organisations can – and do – work in partnership with the justice, education, and health systems to support better health outcomes.
- Youth organisations are vehicles for health and wellbeing: Youth organisations play a vital role in addressing health inequalities among young people. They do this by providing a trusted space for young people to get active, seek advice, access services, forge new relationships, and become healthier and happier individuals. Youth services contribute to the overall physical and emotional wellbeing of young people, can address specific health needs, and provide opportunity for positive change and healthy habits.
- Community organisations strengthen their communities: Community organisations play a critical role in developing healthier communities. By developing partnerships with local services and business, they bring benefits to themselves, their partner organisations, and their wider communities. Youth organisations are often a vehicle for young people to positively interact with their local communities, firstly by connecting with their peers and then often by growing into leadership positions. For these reasons, community and youth organisations are a mutually beneficial vehicle for better social integration.
- Inner vs. outer boroughs: There are significant disparities between services and opportunities in different parts of London. This is most apparent between the inner and outer boroughs. More needs to be done to recognise and address these regional inequalities.
- Not reinventing the wheel: There is value in proven programmes and in existing relationships within communities. Wherever possible, existing organisations, partnerships, and programmes should be utilised, rather than creating new structures and systems.