The University of Southampton

Southampton teenagers are first in the country to become Young Health Champions in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Young people from Southampton have become the first to receive a Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) qualification, recognising their efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using funding from Southampton City Council (SCC) COVID-19 Innovations Grant, members of the Youth Ambassadors Group at Southampton Children’s Hospital, worked with film makers to create a series of short films. The aim was to create messaging aimed at their peer group to either support public health advice to help contain the virus, or convey the impact of the pandemic on young people and their mental health.

Creating the films formed part of the RSPH COVID-19 Young Health Champion Level 2 qualification, a brand new award that recognises the role that young people play in public health messaging.

For the qualification, young people had to first investigate a public health issue – in this case COVID-19 – before devising a way of communicating it in the form of a public health campaign and then finally reflecting on the success of their work by evaluating impact and areas for improvement.

The qualification was gained through the University of Southampton LifeLab Programme, an accredited centre of excellence for delivering RSPH qualifications. The first cohort of newly-qualified health champions gathered for a presentation ceremony at Southampton City Council Civic Centre.

RSPH COVID-19 award winners received their qualification
RSPH COVID-19 award winners received their qualification

Ipsa Dash, 16, was one of those to gain the qualification. She said: “I was really grateful for the opportunity to take part in this project and really pleased to have received this award. It has been a great experience and also a valuable one because of the focus on young people creating these messages for other young people. I am very proud to have been a part of it.”

Sallie White, Community Engagement Officer at SCC, said: “These films were a great opportunity for young people to raise awareness with their peers about how they could keep themselves safe and follow the guidance at the time’’

Lisa Bagust, LifeLab teaching fellow, said: “We are particularly proud to have developed this brand new syllabus dedicated to COVID-19 in partnership with RSPH and with funding from the Department for Health and Social Care. It is fantastic to see young people recognised for the part they have played in the pandemic response.”

Aaron Mansfield, Education Manager at RSPH, said “We are delighted to have collaborated with the University of Southampton and LifeLab on this fantastic project. It is vital that young people are given every opportunity to shape the public health messages that affect their lives, as well as the recognition they deserve for the contributions that they make.”

Sarah Shameti, youth worker for the Youth Ambassadors Group which is made up of young people who have a connection to the children’s hospital, said: “We were delighted to see the outcome of the hard work the young people had put in. Not only has it been great to see the impact the films had, the project has led to members of the group gaining a recognised qualification.”

The films were published earlier this year on themes that encouraged young people to either follow guidance to protect others or highlight mental health impact and support available.

The films can be viewed here: