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Solent NHS Trust scores slam dunk in engaging with young people

Solent NHS Trust’s Experience of Care Team has introduced a groundbreaking approach to engaging with young people that’s proving to be a slam dunk success.

Addressing the feedback gap among men under 25s and those from black and Asian backgrounds with NHS services, the team has introduced a dynamic blend of basketball and slam poetry as a way of engaging with these groups.

They have also teamed up with colleagues from Solent Child & Family services and secured funding from the National Institute Health Research (NIHR) to turn the project into reality. 

Ophelia Watson, Head of Experience at Solent NHS Trust, said: “It was suggested by our community researcher, Abs Sannah, to host the sessions at St Mary’s Community Centre in Southampton as that would be easily accessible for the boys to walk to. Abs worked closely with us in promoting the event by designing a flyer that would attract the young people we hoped to reach.  We followed his guidance, and we were encouraged to see 11 young men turn up for the first session. The session was such a great success with the attendees telling us that they felt valued and listened to.”

Photo above: Abs Sannah

Participants echoed their appreciation. One of the young men said: “It’s great that the NHS has put this on for us it makes us see that you are interested in our views and that you care about us.”

In January, the team hosted their second event, bringing in a mental health advisor to provide advice on how to look after their mental health.

“The feedback from the second session was very rich and some of the young black males explained how difficult it can be to talk about mental health and express their feelings within their cultures,” Ophelia said.

“They explained that sometimes there was an additional stigma attached to expressing their emotions especially amongst the backdrop of conflicting cultures, gang threats, the rising threat of knife crimes and having to be seen as the ‘Big Man, so as not to appear weak.”

“One young person from the community also told us that the event had allowed him to play basketball safely for the first time in over a year. When asked why, he told us that he had been jumped on by some local youths whilst he had been playing basketball outside in a local park. He told us that he was so grateful for the opportunity to play with his friends again and asked us to consider hosting another session.

“The issues that some of the young people in our communities face is real. It was so rewarding to be able to host an event that helped these men to get fit, socialise, learn some health tips, and feel safe and valued.

“The impact of these basketball sessions and workshops has been that some of the young males now want to get involved in some more research with us whilst others have stated that they have learnt some invaluable tools to help them with their mental health. We believe Solent has scored a slam dunk by using this approach to reach young males in our communities. We believe this is just the beginning of more exciting things to come!”

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