Youth commissioners making a difference in Newham

Newham Youth Ambassadors (l-r) Sema aged 18, Khadija 17, Tahmid 17 and Shandies 18

Young people with diabetes in Newham are being encouraged to take more control over their condition by helping redesign local health services.

NEL CSU supported Newham Clinical Commissioning Group to recruit four youth commissioners living with diabetes as part of the Newham Diabetes Youth Project to run workshops on the future of diabetes services and to raise awareness of their condition.  Newham has the youngest population in the UK and the highest number of young people under 25 with diabetes.  The redesign of services for young people with diabetes is part of the Transforming Services Together programme.

During workshops in recent months run by the ambassadors, again with support from NEL CSU and the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC), young people and their families shared their experiences and views on the existing services with experts, providers and clinicians and then offered their suggestions on how they could be improved. 

Those suggestions included increased use of technology to deliver care, improved support to transition to self-management and adult services, more peer support and minimising impact on education by offering services such as clinics after school. This project is designed to explore these ideas in more detail and then implement them.

Shandies Rose, 18, was encouraged to apply to for the position of Youth Commissioner by her GP.

“It’s been a really good experience.  I’ve gained new skills, had training and met lots of new people. Things do need to change.  Being involved with the CCG, we can actually see that we will be able to change things.” 

NEL Healthcare Consulting project manager Rachelle Ferrer said: “Giving young people a say in their healthcare is vital.  One of the biggest issues young people with diabetes face is moving from services targeted towards them as children and young people to using adult services.  That transition period needs to be better managed and they have strong ideas on how that can be done.  By working together and truly listening to service users, we can design the services that best meets their needs.”

The project should lead to improved services for young people with diabetes which can be implemented throughout East London.