Developing policy recommendations for young people's future health Health Foundation selects organisations to develop policy recommendations for action across seven key areas as part of the Young people’s future health inquiry

9 April 2019

Throughout 2017 and 2018 the Health Foundation conducted research and engagement across the UK to understand the influences affecting the future health of young people aged 12-24.

The inquiry sought to understand the ability young people have to access the core building blocks of health – a place to call home, secure and rewarding work,and supportive relationships with their friends, family and community.

The Health Foundation has selected expert organisations across seven key areas to provide a deep dive into these building blocks of health.

Each of the expert organisations below will be exploring how they impact on young people’s lives and develop recommendations for action.

The final recommendations will be published by the Health Foundation in autumn this year.

The quality of work on offer to young people

Institute for Employment Studies

Secure and rewarding work which offers scope for career growth is one of the key building blocks for a healthy future. In Listening to our future the Health Foundation found a number of the young people detailed a challenging work environment. Some were not able to support themselves financially and many were concerned about insecure work. A proportion were also undertaking jobs which they were overqualified for.

The Institute for Employment Studies will conduct an analysis of young people’s current experience of the labour market and develop recommendations for further action.

Post-16 education and training outside of the path to university

Education Policy Institute

Young people suggested they need to be equipped with the skills that they need to succeed in the work place, and to define clear career goals rather than focusing solely on academic performance as a barometer for success. The engagement work undertaken in 2018 revealed that the academic track was being promoted to young people, without much exploration of other options. We also got a sense that there was marked geographic variation in what was on offer to non-academic young people. Furthermore, we met a number of young people who were struggling to re-enter education following a period in low-paid work.

The Education Policy Institute will seek to understand the current routes available for young people outside of traditional academia and provide recommendations for action.

The impact of schools on wellbeing

The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition and the Centre for Mental Health

Young people suggested rising pressure on academic performance in schools is enforcing a results-driven culture, with insufficient focus on real work experience and practical life skills. They highlighted this as a key factor for their mental health and emotional wellbeing across every location in A place to grow. Schools are a place where young people spend a large proportion of their time and the Health Foundation now seeks to understand the ways in which schools can play a positive and negative role in young people’s well-being.

The Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition and the Centre for Mental Health will feedback on the impact of schools on wellbeing and develop recommendations for action.

The impact of transport on young people’s lives

Sustrans and the University of the West of England

Affordable, frequent and reliable transport infrastructure is necessary for young people to develop the assets needed for a smooth transition to adulthood. In A place to grow the Health Foundation uncovered the huge impact that transport is having on young people’s lives. We found the lack of infrastructure and high costs were significant barriers for young people and there were examples of them making different educational, employment and other choices because of the transport options involved.

Sustrans and the University of the West of England will provide feedback on how transport is affecting young people and develop recommendations for action.

Youth services

Centre for Youth Impact

Youth services can provide structure and purpose, offer emotional support and the opportunity to develop skills and personal connections, which can be a gateway to employment or further education.

In A place to grow the young people across all of the locations we visited discussed the value they gained from youth services, including in developing skills they were not able to develop in an educational setting, along with the emotional support they received from their peers and service staff. Those working in youth services described the difficult choices they were having to make in an environment of reduced funding.

The Centre for Youth Impact will investigate the current challenges and opportunities that youth services are facing and provide recommendations for action.

Living with or without a financial safety net

The Resolution Foundation

Many young people who do not have access to financial support from either the state, from family or carers can fall through the gaps and find themselves without a safety net. This can lead to missed opportunities and can significantly impact on their future prospects. The Health Foundation found that young people who had a financial safety net, usually from parents, were able to take more positive risks, such as continuing with education or accepting work. This creates inequality in opportunity.

The Resolution Foundation will seek to understand what the level of safety-net is on offer from the state and develop recommendations for action.

Private rental housing

Chartered Institute of Housing

A safe and secure home is one of the key building blocks for a healthy future. Home ownership is now unaffordable for most young people, with a quarter of 24 to 35 year-olds owning their own home today compared to around half 25 years ago. Many young people live in the private rental sector for a large amount of time, often them to moving regularly, experiencing poor accommodation and unscrupulous landlords.

In Listening to our future the Health Foundation heard young people describing high-costs of housing, particularly private rental housing as a barrier to gaining independence and stability. We also heard of barriers to accessing housing, particularly if a young person was in insecure work or did not have a guarantor.

The Chartered Institute of Housing will set out the current context and trends in the rental sector that limit the accessibility and affordability of good quality housing, and develop recommendations for action.

Further information

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Any other queries can be directed to

Further reading


Young people's future health inquiry


Our Young people’s future health inquiry is a first-of-its-kind research and engagement project that...


Watch: Young people's future health inquiry


Watch our animation to find out what building blocks are needed for a healthy future.

Learning report

Listening to our future

June 2018
Learning report

The first report from the Young people's future health inquiry, sharing the learnings from our early...

Learning report

A place to grow

December 2018
Learning report

The second report from the Young people’s future health inquiry, exploring site visits with young...

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