Listening to young people’s voices through partnerships with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector

In this blog post, Natalie Madden, Programme Manager for #BeeWell in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth & Southampton (HIPS) describes how close working with voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations is enabling the voices of a wide range of young people to be heard.


Ensuring that the youth voice is embedded in all aspects of #BeeWell is fundamental to the success of the programme, from survey design through to decision-making and acting on the results. Following the achievements of the Youth Steering Group in Greater Manchester, the team in HIPS (Hampshire, IoW, Portsmouth, and Southampton) recognised that a central youth group would be essential to help design the next phase of the programme and influence decision making.

However, in considering the logistics of how to establish a truly representative group of young people, from across such a large geographical area, with such diverse communities, we quickly recognised that we could benefit from the expertise and connections of the thriving VCSE sector in the region.

With this in mind, we put out an open grants call last Autumn, and are now working with nine VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) organisations who have strong existing relationships with young people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, many of which represent the barriers young people face in relation to their wellbeing. With their #BeeWell participation grants, our VCSE partners will convene and facilitate additional sessions with these young people, enabling us to capture their voices and opinions.

All participating VCSE organisations convened groups which met at least once before Christmas. This session was as opportunity for young people to give feedback about what they want to get out of the sessions, what wellbeing means to them and how the #BeeWell team should share the results of the survey with young people both in and out of school.

The organisations will each be facilitating a further four sessions by the end of April 2024, in addition to their usual scheduled sessions. Through these sessions, young people will help to:

  • Create a region-wide, young people’s group that will influence decision making and further design the #BeeWell programme.
  • Interpret the results of the survey, sharing their understanding of what the results mean for young people.
  • Develop options for what we all need to do to improve young people’s wellbeing in response to the survey results.

The grants will also support organisations to help develop the skills of young people in an area they wish to improve, such as confidence, public speaking, creative design etc.

In addition to the individual group sessions, we are also working with all participating VCSEs to host a wider, regional event for all the young people involved. Participants will take part in a range of physical and wellbeing activities, and there will be opportunities to consider and respond to the #BeeWell survey results.​

To support participating VCSEs to get the most of their grants and these sessions, the #BeeWell team is working closely with them, providing session notes and ideas to help shape the sessions, and QR codes to questionnaires.  Prior to sending the material out to the groups, it was reviewed by the LifeLab Youth Panel. An example of resource provided:

We look forward to hearing more from these groups and will produce another blog post in the spring setting out what we have learnt and what we have done in response to their feedback.

With thanks to:

Breakout Youth

Community Action Isle of Wight

Educating Individuals Empowering Families

Light UP/Unexpected Places

One Community: Hampshire Young Carers Alliance

Solent Youth Action

The Young Creatives Portsmouth

Winchester Street Reach

Youth Options


 LifeLab Youth Panel