Meet #BeeWell’s National Director

In this blog post, James Robertson, National Director describes his ambition and first month in the #BeeWell team.

I decided some years ago that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my career to improving the lives of young people and mapped out a plan for achieving that. It came to fruition initially when I became the Deputy Director for Youth Policy in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which despite its title is the department responsible for the government’s policy on, and support for, young people outside of school in terms of positive activities, youth work and youth social action.

In that role, I was approached by David Gregson, Founder, Gregson Family Foundation and Huw Spencer, former #BeeWell Project Manager, for an introductory meeting on #BeeWell. I was very impressed by the combination of vision, drive and rigour of the #BeeWell programme and hugely enjoyed our meetings, happily promoting the #BeeWell survey within and outside government. It was obvious to me that if successful it had the potential to massively transform the lives of young people right across England. Which is why, when the role of National Director came up, I applied. I saw it would give me the opportunity to ensure that the #BeeWell programme continues to be delivered in existing and new locations and help steer it with the overall aim to embed this approach across England by 2030, and create a public policy agenda which puts equal weight to wellbeing and academic attainment.

My first few weeks have only strengthened my ambitions. The #BeeWell programme has enormous potential and all the people who work on it – whether in The University of Manchester, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Anna Freud or Hampshire, The Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) – are hugely committed and fantastically talented. #BeeWell has moved, and continues to move, at incredible pace thanks to their talents and dedication, and also those of our many partners both regionally and nationally, across schools, local government and civil society. I’ve barely touched the surface of beginning to meet them all but their contribution is crucial. It’s been a huge pleasure so far to get to know everyone and to begin working with them to make #BeeWell an even greater success. There is lots to do of course as we build on the expansion to HIPS and look to the next stage of #BeeWell’s evolution but working together with all our amazing partners I know we can achieve our shared aim of improving the wellbeing of young people across the length and breadth of the country.