Youth-led #BeeWell uncovers major insights into young people’s experiences across Greater Manchester

Press release, 18 March 2022

  • #BeeWell survey of young people’s wellbeing receives almost 40,000 responses from across Greater Manchester
  • Survey co-designed with young people to reflect their needs and aspirations 
  • 4 in 5 young people say they feel they belong at school, with around two thirds involved in sport outside of school at least once a week 
  • Gaps reported in wellbeing scores between girls and boys, while young people identifying as LGBTQ+ reporting higher levels of stress and emotional difficulties 
  • Responses will be used to inform new social prescribing pilot in Greater Manchester, with youth-led funding pots of £20,000 to support health and wellbeing activities  

Young people across Greater Manchester have places to spend their free time and feel they belong at their school, according to the results of a survey released today.

Greater Manchester’s #BeeWell programme, which focuses on young people’s wellbeing, carried out the biggest survey of its kind in the country in Autumn 2021. More than 160 schools took part in the initiative in its first year, in an enormous region-wide push to support young people’s wellbeing – led by young people themselves.

Young people co-designed the #BeeWell survey, launched it in schools, and have worked with researchers to identify key findings and priority areas of research. The survey received just shy of 40,000 responses, representing approximately 60% of all young people in Year 8 and Year 10 in the city region.

Key Findings

Analysis by the University of Manchester has shown that:

  • Wellbeing metrics for Greater Manchester young people seem consistent with what we know from other large studies nationally, from life satisfaction to mental wellbeing to emotional difficulties.
  • There are noteworthy gaps in wellbeing scores between males and females, with girls reporting lower wellbeing than boys. There are also sizeable inequalities for young people who identify as LGBTQ+, who on average report higher levels of stress and emotional difficulties.
  • The majority of young people say they have things to do and places to go. 73% reported they can almost always/often do what they like in their free time, and 70% agreed/strongly agreed that they have places to go to spend free time in their local area. 4 in 5 young people also feel that they belong at their school.
  • Physical activity levels appear to have fallen following the pandemic, with only 1 in 3 young people reaching the recommended levels of physical activity set by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer.
  • Despite this, a large majority of young people (67%) are still getting involved in sport outside of school at least once a week, and 4 in 5 young people feel they have good, very good or excellent physical health.
  • This World Sleep Day, the #BeeWell study can also reveal that 40% of young people say they do not normally get enough sleep to feel awake and concentrate on schoolwork during the day. The average time spent on social media per day is 4.4 hours a day.

Young people will continue to lead the conversation around mental health and wellbeing. Reform Radio are launching a monthly radio show with young artists to explore the key themes emerging from the survey. Young people at Young Manchester will oversee a commissioning budget for campaigns and activities in their local area. Pupils will support the University of Manchester to identify future research priorities within the dataset.

The Politics Project will run borough-wide conversations between pupils and local politicians in the summer term to explore the data and decide on how they will respond collectively. The Greater Manchester Strategy will use #BeeWell to ensure the city region is delivering positive change in all its communities, with young people’s wellbeing at the front and centre.  

Professor Neil Humphrey, academic lead for #BeeWell at the University of Manchester, said: “The #BeeWell research team is delighted to begin reporting the initial findings of our first annual survey.  The young people of Greater Manchester have spoken.  The crucial next step is for the system to respond to what they have told us with the kinds of support that young people want and need, supported by professionals and their local communities. This is just the start of the research we will be able to carry out with the dataset and we will work closely with young people and partners to maximise its impact.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, portfolio lead for young people in Greater Manchester, said: “This is an exciting moment for Greater Manchester as we celebrate and learn from the first year of findings of the #BeeWell survey. There are brilliant strengths emerging throughout the city region that are a testament to our schools and our communities. There are also clear opportunities to act together, with young people leading the way, to improve our support for their mental health and wellbeing.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “If we want young people in Greater Manchester to get on and succeed, it’s vital that we listen to them about what they want from the support and opportunities that are out there. The idea behind #BeeWell – the biggest survey of its kind in the country – was to work with young people to create something that would give us a genuine insight into how they experience life growing up in our city-region. There is good news here, with positive feelings about belonging at school and physical health.

“Clearly, though, this survey has uncovered things that need to be addressed. Young people were hit hard during the pandemic, which exposed the deep inequalities that still exist in our communities. What’s important now is that, working with our partners across Greater Manchester, we use these findings to make sure that our young people get the support they need to thrive.”

Meera Saravanan, #BeeWell Youth Advisor, said: “#BeeWell has given a voice to the young people of Greater Manchester after they have long been neglected from conversations surrounding mental health and well-being. It is exciting that young people will be at the heart of the decision-making process to ensure that support and education is available to everyone, all whilst making sure we continue to celebrate our schools, communities and our well-being!”

Janice Allen, Headteacher at Falinge Park High School, said: “This is a moment to recognise that schools have been there for children throughout the pandemic and will continue to be there. It is immensely difficult in schools at the moment as we start to see the impact of Covid-19, but through #BeeWell we can make sure that mental health and wellbeing are at the forefront of what we do. The challenge is to now seize this opportunity together.”


Click here to find an overview briefing on the 2021 survey findings and an Evidence Briefing on inequalities produced by the University of Manchester research team.


Notes to Editors
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About #BeeWell

The challenge and opportunity to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people in England is more pressing than ever. #BeeWell is a programme that annually surveys the wellbeing of pupils in secondary schools in Greater Manchester and will deliver positive change in all our communities as a result.
Designed by 150 young people in collaboration with a team of academics at the University of Manchester, the #BeeWell survey spans questions around the domains of wellbeing (Meaning, Purpose and Control; Understanding Yourself; Emotions) and the drivers of wellbeing (Relationships; Hobbies & Entertainment; the Future; School; Environment & Society; and Health & Routines).

The #BeeWell programme is the result of multiple partners coming together around a shared objective of improving wellbeing. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority and its 10 local authorities have worked closely with schools in the city region around a Life Readiness survey for Year 10 pupils under the direction of Mayor Andy Burnham. Young people, schools, the voluntary sector and local authorities have all been fundamental in shaping the programme from the very start. David Gregson, a businessman, philanthropist, and board member of multiple national charities and sporting bodies, contacted The University of Manchester in 2019, looking to collaborate on a project to address his deep concerns about the wellbeing of young people in the UK. The University of Manchester and Anna Freud Centre at University College London are experts in assessing the wellbeing of young people, having spearheaded the learning and evaluation strand of the National Lottery’s HeadStart programme.

For more background on the #BeeWell project, see: And, for a full list of the funders of the #BeeWell project, see: Funders – #BeeWell (

The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is a member of the prestigious Russell Group, and one of the UK’s largest single-site universities. We have over 40,000 students, 12,000 staff and, with almost 480,000 former students from more than 190 countries, are home to the largest alumni community of any campus-based university in the UK. No fewer than 25 Nobel laureates have either worked or studied here. We are the world’s number one university in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, recognising our actions taken towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are also the top UK University for graduate employability according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. We are ranked 27th in the world in the QS World University Rankings (2020) and 6th in the UK, and we’re also 8th in the Reuters Top 100: Europe’s most innovative universities (2019). Visit for further information or for our latest strategic vision.

The Anna Freud Centre
The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is a children’s mental health charity with over 60 years’ experience. We have developed and delivered pioneering mental health care since 1952. Our aim is to transform current mental health provision in the UK by improving the quality, accessibility and effectiveness of treatment. We believe that every child and their family should be at the heart of the care they receive, working in partnership with professionals. Our vision is a world where children and families are supported effectively to build on their strengths and to achieve their goals in life.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Greater Manchester is one of the country’s most successful city-regions. Home to more than 2.8 million people and with an economy bigger than that of Wales or Northern Ireland. Our vision is to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old. We’re getting there through a combination of economic growth, and the reform of public services. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is made up of the ten Greater Manchester councils and Mayor, who work with other local services, businesses, communities and other partners to improve the city-region.