As a reminder of how important this work is, the latest OECD PISA report revealed this week that the average life satisfaction of young people in the UK is the 2nd lowest in the OECD, ahead of only Turkey. The UK scores 4th from bottom amongst all 74 participating countries.
#BeeWell uses a co-designed survey to listen to the voices of as many young people as possible, publish the results privately to schools and publicly by neighbourhood, and drive action across society to improve young people’s wellbeing.
The programme was established in Greater Manchester in 2019 by The University of Manchester, Anna Freud, The Gregson Family Foundation, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority. It was launched following the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Analysis of the #BeeWell data from previous years by The University of Manchester has found that:
- Girls report lower wellbeing than boys, and LGBTQ+ young people report significantly lower wellbeing than their cisgender, heterosexual peers.
- Only one in three young people are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of doing one hour of physical activity per day. This drops to one in four girls.
- Over 40% of Year 9 students report that they aren’t getting enough sleep to feel awake and concentrate at school (2022).
- Deeper analysis indicates that, by tackling bullying, we could prevent nearly 1 in 5 cases of young people’s significant feelings of worry or sadness.
- Neighbourhood-level data reveals that characteristics such as income disparity, health deprivation, crime risk and more are significantly correlated to different domains or drivers of wellbeing.
These findings are already informing activity across Greater Manchester, with schools, voluntary sector organisations and children’s services working closely with young people to interpret and act on the results. For instance:
- A social prescribing and youth-led commissioning pilot in 5 neighbourhoods in GM used the survey findings to allocate £20,000
- #BeeWell measures are utilised by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), ensuring young people’s wellbeing will be at the heart of future strategy
- Investment into arts, culture and wellbeing initiatives amongst voluntary sector partners and within schools
- Investment into a pilot project from Greater Manchester Integrated Care on improving young LGBTQ+ people’s wellbeing
- Voluntary sector partners leading campaigns to improve physical activity amongst girls in response to inequalities identified by #BeeWell data
- Targeted responses to improve physical activity and nutrition by schools
The PISA results show that listening to young people about their wellbeing is vital if we want to see improved life satisfaction amongst young people. We’ve been collecting neighbourhood-level data to further our understanding of the domains and drivers of wellbeing in Greater Manchester, allowing us to share unique insights to improve the lives of young people. The decline in life satisfaction of young people in our country shows that more work needs to be done.
Professor Jessica Deighton, Director of Applied Research and Evaluation, Anna Freud said: "If we are to take the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people seriously, then we need to have a robust survey that can authoritatively collate data from English counties and cities. #BeeWell’s impact on measurement in this area of work could help the UK to improve in the PISA rankings internationally. The voices of our young people are one of the most powerful tools that #BeeWell lets us hear."
James Robertson, #BeeWell National Director, said: "The enthusiasm across Greater Manchester to deliver the #BeeWell programme has been inspiring. I’m so grateful to our partners at the GMCA, academics at the University of Manchester, and to all the schools who delivered the programme for a third year running. All their hard work amplifies the voices of young people at a time when listening to young people has never been more important. Driving action across the city region in response to the latest survey continues to be front and centre at #BeeWell."
Councillor Mark Hunter, Greater Manchester portfolio lead for Children and Young People, and leader of Stockport Council, said: "It is always vital that we listen to our young people across Greater Manchester and truly understand the unprecedented difficulties they have faced over recent years. I’m delighted that the #BeeWell programme has once again given young people the opportunity to have their voices heard and be involved in something that really does make a meaningful difference. We are absolutely determined to improve all aspects of young peoples’ wellbeing in Greater Manchester."