How young people feel about life in Torbay

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The Torbay Safeguarding Children Board has ‘wholeheartedly accepted’ the ‘valuable insight’ offered by Healthwatch Torbay’s new survey report of young people’s experiences of life in the bay.

In January 2018, the Board commissioned Healthwatch Torbay – the independent consumer champion for health and social care in the Bay – to explore the experiences of children and young people (0-25) living here, believing that it’s vital to ensure that all our children and young people live safe and healthy lives. The idea was to find out what young people really feel about life here, what they love, what they don’t, and how they think things could be better for them.

Between April and September 2018, Healthwatch Torbay gathered responses from just over 1900 young people, meeting them across Torbay at outdoor events, visiting both primary and secondary schools, and through voluntary and community groups working with young people. Their views were gathered though a widespread survey but also in creative ways and through social media.

The findings acknowledge the importance of friends, having more things to do and safety concerns, but also identifies some further areas of interest including: the importance of the environment and local setting to young people; a desire for more targeted, and affordable activities that can be used in all weathers; and a desire for enhanced police presence to address an increasing gang culture amongst young people. There was also a concern that the desires and experiences of older people and tourists took precedence over those of younger people.

Healthwatch Torbay Chair Dr Kevin Dixon adds:

“I’d like to thank all the young people that contributed to this report, which emphasises the importance of listening, responding, and addressing the issues raised by young people in a transparent, collaborative, and non-tokenistic way. The young people we spoke to repeatedly expressed scepticism that anything would change as a result of their participation. We therefore commend the Torbay Safeguarding Children Board for agreeing that the survey’s finding be discussed at Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership meetings, so that the recommendations of young people can be actioned in Torbay.”

The Survey’s Findings

Young people in the main felt that the best things about living in Torbay included the environment and local setting, ‘available activities and events, family and friends and the community’. Asked, ‘What’s the worst thing about living in Torbay?’ on the other hand, issues relating to Torbay’s environment and setting highlighted concerns about plastic in the ocean, as well as visible evidence of drugs, alcohol and homelessness.

The lack of activities suitable and affordable for young people was an issue for many, with ‘inadequate infrastructure including transport, investment and shopping availability.’

Improving Torbay Life

When asked, ‘What could improve your experience of living in Torbay?’ respondents identified a multitude of ways to improve young people’s experience of living, from ‘developing age appropriate and affordable activities in co-production with local young people’ to cleaning the beaches and reducing the amount of litter in the sea.

As far as social issues are concerned, many recommended increasing police presence around particular ‘hot spots’ where young people feel unsafe, and ‘improving the awareness and understanding of gang cultures, crime and its implications for young people’ – possibly achieved through regular police talks in school settings – while ‘tackling the root causes of drug and alcohol misuse and homelessness.’

Interestingly, a key recommendation emerging from the survey was ‘strengthening relationships between young people and local stakeholders, charities and services’ and ‘reassurances that their views, opinions and experiences are of equal value to other community members.’

Next Steps

Young people themselves were keen to see evidence that their experience of living in Torbay will be reviewed and evaluated as suggested improvements are made.

Meanwhile, The Torbay Safeguarding Children Board has agreed that the survey’s finding ‘be further considered at a future meeting of the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership so that the recommendations can be actioned by partnership agencies across Torbay.’

To read the full results of our Young People’s survey, visit www.healthwatchtorbay.org.uk.

Bob Jope HEALTHWATCH TORBAY

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(Author)

Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!