At Creative Youth Network's latest We the 33 event, young speakers expressed their views about Mental Health Services in the region drawing on their own experiences and challenges to inform their recommendations. This is your opportunity to listen to the opinions of young people. 

About We the 33

Creative Youth Network regularly deliver “We the 33” events where decision makers, influencers and professionals in Bristol and South Glos come together to listen to the experiences and ideas of young people. (33% of our regions population are under 25, with far less of the decision-making authority).

Influential listeners will then work with the young people to implement actions to improve young people’s lives in the region. In 2022 we held 5 'We the 33%' events, engaging 175 young people and 25 key note listeners on a range of issues from youth violence to experiences of LGBTQ+ young people. 

Our event held on Wednesday 22nd March was about improving mental health services in the region, and our focus was to invite professionals and decision makers who have influence on the lives of young people experiencing mental health issues.

During the event, we heard from seven young speakers – these included a spoken word poet and four refugee young leaders from our Welcome Wednesday group.

🎥 Watch the Video...

About the Young Speakers

Host – Dasha, aged 16

Recently, I delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street campaigning for free school meals for all primary school children.

I’m here today because I think mental health is a really important topic and services should be listening to young people to improve them and provide better support.

Dasha was our host for the evening. They are 16 and currently studying at Sixth Form. They are a South Gloucestershire Young Ambassador with Creative Youth Network and also on the youth board at South Glos Council.

Speaker 1 – Precious, aged 22

I try to explain how I’m feeling but everything gets lost in translation 

And everyone thinks I’m just seeking attention 

So I lose myself in a sea of people pleasing

Hoping one day someone will come and rescue me


Precious Adewale uses her gift of poetry to tell stories about her experiences of love, life and mental health. She aims to relate to, inspire and empower people through her work, embracing her vulnerabilities and using poetry as a form of journaling, self discovery and self expression.

🗣 Precious performed her compelling poem ‘My House’ – here's a short excerpt for you to enjoy.

You can find Precious on Instagram: @presh_arts

Speaker 2 – Charley, aged 16

We should be a lot more focused on what young people need because our generation is a generation that repeatedly voices its needs and is repeatedly ignored. A lot of things need to change within mental health services because it’s frankly not good enough.

…what we can do is make charity mental health services more open to young people. Give them safe spaces that cater to their mental health issues.

Charley is very passionate about mental health and the mental health industry, especially when it comes to young people. They feel that young people are often ignored and patronised in psychiatric settings. In their experience, needs are often left unmet due to young people being told they are exaggerating or making things up. Charley explained their experience with BPD and DID.

Speakers 3-6 – Welcome Wednesday Young Leaders

Menas, Dunya, Mohamed and Ahmad, ages 13-16

Young people who are refugees or asylum seekers don't necessarily know how the system in the UK works – it’s very new to us and can be complicated to access a doctor or health service. Young people might find it difficult to register with a GP, the administration is confusing and often you have to wait a long time in a queue.

Most young refugees are struggling to learn how to speak English properly, so they cannot express how they’re feeling. Some people may or may not be comfortable talking about their mental health using an interpreter.

Our Young Leaders represent the voices of young people who are refugees and asylum seekers, who come to the Welcome Wednesday and Thursday youth clubs at Creative Youth Network's central youth hub, The Station. 

Over the last two years, they’ve been raising awareness and educating others on the issues that impact on young refugees living in Bristol, including young people’s mental health, as one of their key priorities.

They described some of the issues that impact on the mental health of young refugees and explained some of the barriers young people who are refugees and asylum seekers face in accessing mental health support or services.

Speaker 7 – AJ, aged 13

The doctors referred me to CAMHS, but they fobbed me off. They said I needed to get school support instead. But school said they couldn’t do anything, and I needed to get referred somewhere else.

So then I talked to my youth worker. We made a safety plan and did referrals to Off the Record and Creative Youth Network wellbeing support. For Off the Record, I have to wait 8-11 months to get 1:1 support. For CYN I have to wait 8 weeks. 

…young people should be able to get help first. Because one day it could be too late, you never know. Young people shouldn’t have to wait so long and should have more support at school and other places.


AJ is 13-years-old and has faced several mental health challenges including anxiety and panic attacks.

⚠️ Trigger warning: this video discusses self harm and suicidal thoughts.

Key Responders

At We the 33 events, we invite some key responders to share their thoughts after listening to the young people's speeches and taking part in table discussions. For this event, we chose people who can have a significant impact on Mental Health services across the region – we heard from Kevin Sweeney from South Gloucestershire Council Early Help and Colin Bradbury from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board.

Kevin pledged to listen to young people more – he explained that, whilst the council can’t always do exactly what people want, they should at least respond to the issues brought forward by young people.

Colin acknowledged that mental health services for young people are not where they need to be. He pledged to consider how services could be modernised to suit contemporary challenges such as those posed by social media:

There is some things that I think services could do to modernise. So, for example, a lot of the people working in them may not have grown up or certainly not received training in things like social media and how that can affect people's wellbeing and mental health.

Colin also offered to come back and continue these conversations with young people.


Here are a few of the pledges made by decision makers on the night:

Make spaces for young people to share their hopes and views for what an ideal MH service should look like, amplify these views of work with them and to try and build these services and spaces at OTR.

– Catt Turney – OTR/Freedom Youth

Do more work to build young people’s feedback into services as a core part of services and use this feedback to shape services.

– Kevin Sweeney – South Gloucestershire Council

  • More staff training to support young people.
  • Support more deaf young people to join our camps/school and youth group programmes.
  • Advocate for young people within the conservation sector – more green spaces for wellbeing; more support for climate anxiety.

– Molly Singleton – Action for Conservation

To use the thoughts of young people today and build it into how we shape services for the future.

– Abi Gbago – Bristol City Council


Our young people produced a Zine full of poetry about mental health. You can download a copy here or view it as a flipbook below.

View Mentalzine Flipbook

PDF Report

You can download a pdf version of this report here.

Download pdf version

Get in Touch

Would you like to arrange an interview or find out more about our We the 33 events?

Please get in touch with our youth voice panel if you would like any further information or to arrange an interview with any of our young speakers.

Arrange an Interview

Thank you for listening.

We the 33 is supported by:

Notes to editors

If you'd like to share details of the event, we'd be grateful if you could use #WeThe33 or link to our website section:


You may use the images below – please credit: Creative Youth Network


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About Creative Youth Network

Creative Youth Network is a registered charity based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, in the South West of England. We build responsive and trusting relationships with young people from all backgrounds to help them reach their own potential.


Every young person has their unique path – whether they’re the next artist, an incredible parent, or an excellent engineer, we support them to achieve their ambitions. In our safe, inclusive and creative environments, we provide social and emotional support, opportunities for creative expression, and access to alternative education, training and employment. Our work helps young people to find their own voices and change their world for the better.


With a proven track record of transforming thousands of lives, we enable young people to thrive and transition positively into adulthood.


More details can be found at


INSTAGRAM: @CreativeYouthNetwork 

TWITTER: @Creative_Youth 

FACEBOOK: /CreativeYouthNet 

LINKEDIN: /Creative-Youth-Network

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