In this first edition of our new In the Spotlight series, we catch up with Sara Reynolds, the Young Persons Involvement Worker at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Tell us a bit about yourself Sara.
I am the Young Persons Involvement Worker for University Hospitals Bristol and have worked here for almost five years. My background is in Youth and Community work, and I’ve been working with young people for 15 years. Over the years I have been privileged to work with young people in schools, children’s homes and hospitals. Each role has taught me so much and has made me passionate about creating opportunities for young people, making sure their voices are heard.
What inspired you to work with young people?
I love the creativity and energy of young people. They aren’t afraid to question why things are done the way they are. When I was younger, I remember how important it was for me to have adults and youth workers actually listen to what I had to say.
What is the best part of your job?
It is amazing to see young people’s voices make a difference in practice; from influencing how clinicians work with young people in hospital, through to implementing completely new hospital developments. The events and projects I run where staff and young people work directly together and learn from each other are the most exciting to facilitate.
What role does The Grand Appeal play in young people’s involvement at the hospital?
The charity part-fund my role, so The Grand Appeal and its supporters play a vital role in enabling young people’s involvement at the hospital, enabling consistent and significant investment in making sure young people are listened to in the hospitals. The support of The Grand Appeal has also enabled me to develop resources and facilitate events which I couldn’t do without their funding. This is so important not only in making a young person’s stay in hospital easier, but young people engaged with their health have better outcomes, so there are long term positive implications too!
Tell us about the Youth Involvement Group, and some of the key projects you’ve worked on.
The Youth Involvement Group is a chance for young people to have their voice heard about what happens in the hospital, and we meet once a month on the adolescent ward. There have been some brilliant projects including ‘takeover day’ where young people had the opportunity to work with a range of staff across the trust for the day.
The Youth Involvement Group has contributed to the re-commissioning of community health services, and has taken part in ward inspections. Last year the group ran an event for young people across the city about mental health, which is so important. We have also created the opportunity for two young people from the group to be on the board of Governors each year, which I’m really excited about.
What do you think young people can offer the hospital?
Young people are able to see different ways of doing things and can be more creative than adults in their ideas, whether that’s new ways of using technology to improve efficiency, or altering the way in which young people are interacting with hospital staff, they have a lot to bring to the table.
Do you have any hobbies outside of work? Time with family and friends is important to me; I have also started beekeeping and collected my first pots of honey from the bees in my garden last year!