'The places that young people grow up in and live profoundly shape their experiences and opportunities and have implications for long-term health and wellbeing. The fact that almost half of young people say that they do not belong to their neighbourhood and that over a third do not trust that neighbourhood is striking and could have severe consequences for the future health of the next generation. This worrying trend was also reflected in our report, A place to grow, which was a result of engagement with 600 young people from across the UK.
'We cannot continue to ignore the widening health inequalities in the UK and must address the broader social factors which impact on health, including creating positive neighbourhoods in which young people can thrive. At a time of political change we need to see policymakers tackling these deeper issues, which is something that yesterday’s prevention green paper failed to do.'
Nairn McDonald, 23, peer researcher from the Young people's future health inquiry, said:
'Young people's socio-economic background and social experiences have a direct impact on their future health and life chances . Being part of a safe, engaged and supportive community is key to helping young people from poorer backgrounds to overcome the barriers they inevitably face. The fact that so many young people feel disconnected in their communities, proves the need for a radical rethink in how policy makers approach their policy towards young people.
'Growing up in an area of high deprivation, it was clear to us that we needed to rely on each other to overcome the stigma, barriers and challenges we faced. The fact that less than a quarter of young people think they can influence change in their local area is striking and worrying for the future. In the current times of political and societal change, it is imperative that young people feel empowered and able to ask for and yes, demand, change for their own communities. The fact that the percentage of young people volunteering in their communities has dropped nearly 10% in 12 months, shows we are heading for a civic deficit.
'With the changes in the political arena, we need to make sure young people are supported, engaged and empowered and this report shows we have a lot of work still to do. The work of the Health Foundation’s Young people's future health inquiry is key to making sure we have the leaders for tomorrow, today.'
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Listening to our future is the first report in the Health Foundation's Young people's future health inquiry.
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