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Health & Wellbeing Pilots: Key principles of learning

Read about the key learnings from our 4 health and wellbeing partnerships piloted in spring/summer term 2023.

a picture of 4 wooden ply boards shapes as people with words and colours and prints painted and designed on to them to reflect the values of burnage bosy academy year 7 group
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a picture of 4 wooden ply boards shapes as people with words and colours and prints painted and designed on to them to reflect the values of burnage bosy academy year 7 group


Last academic year we launched the MADE Health and Wellbeing task group, with 4 secondary schools and 4 cultural organisations that worked together on a youth-led programme within their school. This was funded by the Manchester City Council (MCC) Population Health. Much of the details of the project are to be kept confidential with respect to the pupils and the principles of wellbeing, but we are able to share some key learnings, outcomes and impact.

The activities of each project tended specifically to the needs, desires and identities of the young people but the common objectives across the partnerships were:

•   creating models of best practice in well-being

•   testing innovative approaches

•   contributing to the goal of becoming a trauma-informed city

•   developing a strong network of creative practitioners and cultural organisations in Manchester through MADE.

Pupils at Our Lady's High working with Afrocats

Implementation and approach

Using a trauma-informed lens, the project involved partners and schools with whom MADE had existing relationships. Schools chosen also had the cultural and staff infrastructure in place to work in a trauma-informed way.

The ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ were first explored to set the framework for the activities, to aid the cultural partners and creative expertise in creating a high-quality project.

From day one the project was created alongside the teachers. This was vital in ensuring the project was cooperative and collaborative and the needs of the schools were embedded. They attended the training and met with cultural partners throughout the whole project.

At the end of the project, the teachers and young people shared their work and fed back on their experiences in person.

The presence of a mental health or wellbeing lead was mandatory to make sure the project was developed in a truly safe space. This worked best when there was a senior member of staff involved from the outset to ensure the project gained some priority.

Being clear with the pupils about what was going to be happening week-on-week, whilst being careful with the choice of language (not using trauma where not appropriate) was important.

Multiple art forms were utilised across the projects to ensure flexibility for the pupils. A key challenge across all projects was scheduling and logistics, calling to attention the need to work as far in advance as possible. There was a desire to do more over a larger period of time across all projects, which will be taken into consideration during Phase 2 of the project in 2023/24.

The projects were documented using written diaries, with post-project interviews held afterwards which painted an experiential picture of the workshops, looking at them through the eyes of those involved and those delivering a ‘box-ticking’ form approach.

Pupils at Levenshulme High working with Odd Arts

Legacy and next steps

One of the projects was presented in MCC Health Scrutiny Committee meeting as an example of good practice. The creative outputs from two of the groups will now take a permanent space in the schools, with the intention that wider school pupils will embed the values and learnings from the project.

Digital resources in the form of a video and tool kit have been created which will be used in one of the schools to support bullying and wellbeing procedures, and with more funding from Manchester City Council Population Health, Phase 2 of the projects will be underway for 2023/24.

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