How Newham's Young Health Champions have joined the Covid fight

Newham Vaccine Poster Competition first prize winner in the 12-18 years age group by Nawailah Makardam from Plashet School

Newham Vaccine Poster Competition first prize winner in the 12-18 years age group category by Nawailah Makardam from Plashet School. - Credit: Newham Council

Newham’s Young Health Champions (YHC) are leading the way in the fight against Covid among their peers.

The scheme was established when Newham Council's public health services started an Instagram campaign for young people to acknowledge their important role in the community, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is now growing in numbers, volume and actions, with the YHC becoming a voice for public health matters to and for young people and feeding back the response.

YHC coordinator Shelby van der Merwe said: “When we consider young people’s health, it is critical to place them at the centre - young people themselves are the key stakeholders to guide us on young people’s health needs and their ongoing wellness.” 

The public health team are working with the YHC to run campaigns about Covid and associated health issues and to share information with their friends, family and people they work and play with.


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It is a structured programme developed by young people and aims to ensure those involved gain tangible benefits for their volunteering efforts.

Shelby explained: “We are currently looking into aligning the YHC with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme for those young people who are involved in both programmes.

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“We also offer the Royal Society of Public Health training (YHC award), leadership workshops and invitations to public health events.

“Four young people have already done this training, focusing in on Covid-19 vaccines.” 

Now, as the vaccination roll-out expands to include young people, the YHC have an even more significant role to play. 

Strategic lead for community engagement in public health at Newham Council, Anne Bowers, said: “Young people have - and will always be - such an important part of our response to Covid.

“They are already so effective at convincing their parents, grandparents, families and friends to follow Covid rules and to have their vaccine.

“This is all the more important as we move into younger people having their vaccine and rates are going up again.”

Young people aged 10 to 25 can get involved in the YHC by following @younghealthchampions on Instagram.

Visit www.newham.gov.uk/bookyourvaccine for information about vaccines.

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