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Young people's future health: five policy posts Developing policy solutions to some of the most pressing challenges that young people face

About 1 mins to read

As part of the Young people's future health inquiry, the Health Foundation funded five policy posts to build an understanding of experiences for 12 to 24-year-olds, and how those experiences help or hinder young people through the transition to adulthood. The posts have used this knowledge to build actionable policy recommendations.

Each post explores one of the important topics that emerged in the listening phase of the inquiry.

As young people navigate the transition to adulthood, it is vital that the building blocks of their future health, such as good work and financial security, are in place.  All too often, long-term health is not at the centre of decision-making, especially in policy areas that affect health but don’t have health at their core. 

The policy post-holders have worked within their organisations to develop and test policy ideas, as well as working with stakeholders in their sector. The Health Foundation has supported the group to work together, sharing their ideas and learnings to strengthen the policy agenda further. This stage of the inquiry draws to a close in winter 2023.

Find out more about the policy posts:

The Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH) is an organisation that works to improve the health and wellbeing of 10 to 24-year-olds. Their policy post looked at the experiences and challenges faced by different groups of young people, such as with experience of care and from black and minority ethnic communities.

The post-holder worked with key organisations including NHS England to collect relevant data about young people’s health inequalities and launched the Youth Health Data Hub in 2022. The data shows the wider determinants that drive health inequalities, the way these affect young people and the resulting health outcomes.   

Consulting and engaging with a youth engagement panel, AYPH, in collaboration with the Race Equality Foundation, published two reports that explored the health inequalities experienced by young people from minority ethnic communities. These reports have helped to build the evidence base on this group’s experiences in different contexts, such as at school and in health care settings. 

Their most recent reports explore the views and experiences of care leavers about health, accessing health care services and health inequalities. Here you can find the youth engagement report and the data report

The Resolution Foundation is an independent think tank focused on improving living standards for people on low to middle incomes. Their policy post analysed how poor-quality work impacts young people and the barriers they face in accessing high-quality work. The post aims to develop policy that can be used by a wide range of policymakers and other organisations to improve job quality and help prepare young people for good work.

The post-holder has explored the relationship between young people’s labour market conditions and mental health outcomes. The reports have drawn on a number of topics including the effects of the pandemic, experience in early adulthood, and risk and protective factors influencing young people’s labour market involvement. For example, Constrained choices explores the prevalence of part-time work among low-paid workers in the UK and draws upon findings from four focus groups.

Recently, the Resolution Foundation published a briefing note exploring how place plays a factor for young people who aren’t working due to ill-health. It finds that young people living in smaller places are more likely to be out of work due to ill health.

The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) is an international organisation that aims for a future where everyone has the opportunity of good quality, secure and meaningful work. Their policy post looked at a range of issues surrounding the type of work undertaken by young people, exploring how these are measured and understood, as well as developing policy solutions to improve the quality of work.  

IES has built local area partnerships with Career Wales, the Welsh Government and Somerset County Council. These are designed to support the development of coordinated and coherent responses to youth employment in those places, with the aim of developing better solutions for young people’s employment. IES used place-based collaborations learning from local areas and sharing insight from the research on partnerships and youth systems to influence practice on the ground and support efforts towards local systemic change. 

The post-holder carried out research through surveys and interviews with small, medium and large businesses. Their January 2023 report Bridging the gap explored employers’ views and experiences around hiring, working with and retaining young people, with a specific focus on views and practices around good quality work. This complements their previous report Not just any job, good jobs! which took a youth-centred approach, drawing upon young people’s experiences of good work. Their final output Young people’s mental health in the workplace explores the challenges young workers are facing when it comes to mental health and action needed to address these challenges.  

The RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) believes in a world where everyone is able to participate in creating a better future. It undertakes research and delivers innovative new programmes to achieve this.

The post-holder looks at how the economy, job market, and wider society have contributed to young people experiencing economic insecurity and financial volatility. Moreover, they explore how economic insecurity impacts young people’s transition to adulthood and ways that policy can help young people to become economically secure.

The cost of independence report highlights the importance of economic security and its effects on young people and their future health and wellbeing. Its launch event raised awareness of economic security and was attended by academics, policymakers and policy influencers. 

Following on from this, the RSA’s Age of insecurity report uses the concept of ‘atomisation’– the breaking of societal bonds that should support young people – to explain the prevalence of economic insecurity in this cohort of young people. This phenomenon is used to explain experiences of low pay, high costs, and the general difficulty of navigating a system which makes financial independence difficult for young people today. To do this, the RSA carried out primary research, launching a 12-month period of diary research, with support from Savanta market research consultancy, following 12 young people. 

The University of the West of England (UWE) has worked in collaboration with Sustrans to review evidence on the role of transport in supporting young people to develop and transition to an independent and healthy future.

The project is building evidence and assessing policy initiatives to support policy and industry action. A panel of young volunteers and policy experts are working with the project, sharing their experiences and insights to guide project priorities. Getting transport right for young people has never been so important.

One of this post’s major outputs is the Fair Bus Fares for Young People policy briefing, launched in July 2022. The briefing provides an overview of young people’s needs for bus fare support, recent policy development and the bus fare schemes available to young people aged over 16 across the UK. It involved working with young people to develop policy asks for the briefing. The briefing ends with a set of policy recommendations developed in collaboration with young advisors. 

Their recent blog for the Urban Transport Group shares the stories of four young people and their experiences with buses. This piece illuminates the essential role of buses in both young people’s personal development and mobility. 

Their final output is scheduled for autumn 2023 and will explore the transport needs and challenges faced by young people aged 16-24.  

Why these five areas?

As part of the Young people’s future health inquiry, the Health Foundation worked to understand some of the challenges facing young people. Throughout 2019 we ran a policy phase with expert organisations to understand some of the issues and make recommendations. We then held a competitive process, involving our young peer researchers, to award the posts to organisations with the strongest proposals. 

Other areas of the inquiry action phase, such as the research and place-based work, will explore other challenges facing young people.

About the Young people's future health inquiry

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