The problem

Mental health difficulties are widespread for young people in the UK. 

A recent study on life satisfaction for young people conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the UK fourth from the bottom across nearly 80 countries – the sharpest wellbeing decline of any country since the last assessment in 2015.

Research in 2020 showed that 1 in 6 young people (5-16 year olds) reported probable mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, an increase of 5% in just three years. This rise is closely tied to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, where experiences such as witnessing arguments at home, sleep problems, lower levels of support from school or colleges, living in a household that had fallen behind on payments and reporting that lockdown had made life worse, were influencing factors for those who experienced mental health difficulties.

#BeeWell know that the need to improve young peoples’ mental health is pressing, and with young people having returned to school they are determined to seize the opportunity to improve young peoples’ life satisfaction by making their mental health and wellbeing central to the recovery process.

The challenge and opportunity to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the UK is more pressing than ever. #BeeWell’s survey will support schools and communities to prioritise young people’s wellbeing – and work with young people to create their own futures.

The solution

#BeeWell will deliver a first of its kind survey to assess wellbeing, and the factors that influence it, to participating secondary schools across all ten districts of Greater Manchester for three years from autumn 2021. In a partnership between the University of Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Anna Freud Centre 

Confidential feedback will then be provided to participating schools from early 2022. Aggregated feedback will also be published across Greater Manchester’s neighbourhoods in March 2022, with a view to inspiring a coalition of partners to deliver improvements to the wellbeing of young people, both within schools and also in the community. The #BeeWell team will work with young people, statutory, voluntary, cultural, arts and sports organisations to ensure the response to the data is youth-led and rooted in communities.

These activities have been distilled into #BeeWell’s vision: 

• Listen to young people’s voices 

• Act together for change 

• Celebrate young people’s wellbeing

Co-creation is at the heart of #BeeWell and they have worked together with young people to ensure the programme feels inclusive and meaningful

Work in action

#BeeWell’s work directly builds on the University of Manchester’s experience with the national HeadStart programme, which surveyed more than 100,000 young people across England, and the Mayor Andy Burnham’s Life Readiness Survey across Greater Manchester schools.

#BeeWell intends to demonstrate the impact of measuring wellbeing at scale and make the case for doing so at a national level. The research will create an evidence base that leads to a better understanding of the distribution and determinants of young people’s mental health. Co-creation is at the heart of #BeeWell and they have worked together with young people to design their name (a nod to the Manchester bee!), logo, website, social media presence and the survey itself to ensure the programme feels inclusive and meaningful to all young people across Greater Manchester. 

“We are so pleased to see that so many young people have taken part in #BeeWell. This project is all about powerful young people creating their own futures and it’s fantastic that young people and schools across Greater Manchester are seizing the chance to do so.

– Meera, #BeeWell Youth Advisor

The Big Changers

David Gregson – #BeeWell Chairman

David is Chairman of The Gregson Family Foundation; an Executive Committee Member of The Institute for Fiscal Studies; a Trustee of Pro Bono Economics and The Windsor Leadership Trust; an advisor to both Sutton Trust, which seeks to improve social mobility through education, and the Invictus Games to be held in 2022 in The Hague; a Director of the FA Women’s Super League; and a member of the Advisory Boards of Phoenix Equity Partners, a leading UK mid-market private equity business, and of Alliance Manchester Business School. Previously, David was a co-founder and Chairman of Phoenix.

Over his career, he has been a director or Chairman of some 30 companies or charities. Most recently, David has been Chairman of the LTA, which is responsible for tennis in Britain; Chairman of CGL, the UK’s largest social and healthcare charity; and a Director of LLDC, which is transforming East London following the 2012 Games. David has an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School and an MA in Maths and Physics from Cambridge University.

Huw Spencer – Project Manager, #BeeWell

Huw is the Project Manager for #BeeWell, embedded in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Public Service Reform team. He has worked at the GMCA since 2018, first as a lead analyst for children’s services and more recently as a project manager for the GM early education recovery plan. He has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and in his spare time helps organise the Northern Policy Forum – a network for young people interested in policy in the north of England. Huw is particularly keen to ensure the voice of young people is at the heart of the wellbeing programme and will be working closely with schools, youth organisations and the arts, voluntary and sports sectors to make sure this is the case. In his spare time, Huw dances tango and is an avid follower of Manchester City Football Club.

Team #BeeWell 

#BeeWell brings together a host of brilliant partners working together to improve young people’s wellbeing. Find out more about the wider #BeeWell Team here.