Between April and May, City and Islington College lecturer Sarah Lee took a cohort of ESOL students aged 16-18 from the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Finsbury Park to experience the different mental health provisions of the NHS. Taking their discussion to wellbeing centre, The Lift, in Angel, student responses garnered online attention this month for their involvement in the healthcare conversation in North London.
Sarah, who also works for independent healthcare organisation Health Watch Islington, was keen to give students the opportunity to see the inner workings of the NHS as part of ‘Options’, an aspect of the course programme for ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students at the centre that teaches recently settled learners about social geography, including healthcare services.
She explained: “The adult mental health service at Islington are interested in moving from their old King’s Cross, St Pancras space to the Whittington Hospital in Archway. They have worked closely with Health Watch Islington, giving out a number of questionnaires to health professionals, and are now looking to speak to young people about what they would like from a mental health service before the move. Working with Health Watch Islington, our students had the chance to get involved and discuss what an ideal service would look like to them.”
Published on 29 July 2019, the corresponding article revealed students wanted services that supported mental health to be delivered in community settings alongside other services and activities that young people need. They also wanted a service that was comfortable, honest and professional.
The ESOL classes presented their ideas to NHS commissioners at The Lift, giving further insight into what would be needed to fully realise their plans.
The Health Watch Islington article notes: “The students learnt what commissioners and providers of services felt about a young person’s wellbeing service. In particular they learnt that providers do best when they focus on what they are good at. It is also important to work with partners.”
Alice Clark, Joint Commissioning Manager for Adult Mental Health for Islington Council and Islington Clinical Commissioning Group, told Health Watch Islington: “It was a real pleasure to take part. I really enjoyed the discussion, they are a lovely group and it was very refreshing to hear their thoughts and ideas on wellbeing services.”
Taking the conversation to other young people, the students tied up their work in the big city with an Instagram video, asking other young people for their thoughts on wellbeing.
Commenting on their work, Sarah went on to add: “When the students fully understood the purpose of the project, it was clear it had gone very well. They were great. I took them to environments that they perhaps wouldn’t have been to previously, and it gave them a genuine insight into what they were learning in the classroom. The 16-18 bracket for ESOL mainly consists of refugees and unaccompanied young people. It was great to see these young people get involved, and to engage in the community this way.”
You too can share your views on health and social care services with Health Watch Islington at the end of the original article here.