Ann Coffey


MP Praises health project co-designed by children

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 MP praises health project co-designed by children

(Picture attached: Ann Coffey presented awards to children from St Anne’s in Stockport)

Ann Coffey MP has praised as ‘trailblazers’ young people who worked as equal partners with professionals in designing an innovative health project.

The MP for Stockport presented awards at Salford University MediaCityUK to pupils from St Anne’s in Stockport for their contribution to the ‘Not Just a Thought…’ project.

The project team was led by Professor Andrew Rowland, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Honorary Professor at the University of Salford, and Donna Peach, Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Salford, who worked with professionals from health, social care, education, police and charities. The project was funded by NHS England (North).

About 75 children, and over 100 professionals, from across the conurbation joined forces to co-design the project which set out to develop a new engagement model for health professionals working with children at risk of sexual exploitation, other forms of child abuse and potential harm to their health and well-being.

On the advice of 75 young people who took part, ‘Not Just a Thought’ turned into a project to give information to professionals about how to have difficult conversations with children about relationships, sexuality, home life, domestic abuse, alcohol and drugs and how to spot signs of risk of child sexual exploitation.

Ms Coffey, the author of ‘Real Voices’ – Child Sexual Exploitation in Greater Manchester, published in 2014, prioritised listening to children and young people and put their voices about their experiences at the front of her report.

Children told her that trust was vital before they would tell people what was happening in their lives and they were sometimes put off speaking out because of the type of questions they were asked.

Ms Coffey said: “Only young people themselves understand what is going on in their lives and they will only talk if a trusting relationship is established and questions are asked in the right way.

“ ‘Not Just a Thought …’ is one of a number of trailblazing projects which has taken a vital step forward from just listening to children to actually getting them to work as partners and to help design initiatives from scratch.

“The experience of young people can have a real impact on how services are delivered making them more effective. To do that they need to be involved from the word go.”

Professor Rowland said, “The contribution from the children, young people and young adults involved in this project, as well as the practitioners and professionals, has been outstanding. This project has respected and valued the input of a huge number of people, recognising that their opinions, thoughts and dreams are of equal importance. The outputs of the Not Just a Thought … project will be the starting point for professionals and members of the community to consider ways they can enhance engagement with people who may be facing adversity, and will hopefully contribute to improved health and well-being of young people in the future.”

The outputs of the Not Just a Thought… project are expected to be formally launched in July 2017.