Can You Hear Me? Are inequalities in health inevitable? How might we ensure a fairer, healthier future for everyone? Researchers from the University of Sheffield, Fuse and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explored young people’s perspectives on health inequalities. An art installation inspired by the research has been created by Ignite Imaginations’ artist Lois Conlan and young people from Chilypep and YMCA Barnsley.
About the research project
Set against a backdrop of rising poverty levels and austerity measures, and exacerbated by the recent pandemic, health inequalities in the UK today are worsening. Across the lifecourse (from preconception to the end of life) and a range of different health outcomes (both physical and mental health), the more affluent members of society fare consistently better than the less affluent. However, we know very little about what people actually think and know about health inequalities, and what could or should be done about them. Young people’s perspectives are particularly absent.
Our project, carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic, worked with young people aged 13-21 from youth groups in South Yorkshire, the North East and London to find out their ideas about health inequalities. We asked young people: What influences your health in your local area? What do health inequalities mean to you? What would you change in your local area to help reduce health inequalities?
We used participatory mind mapping techniques and contemporary news articles to stimulate discussion.
Young people in our study demonstrated really thoughtful understandings of the links between wealth and health. They described the everyday challenges of life on a low income and explained how different factors (e.g. cost of healthy food, safety concerns in the local area, poor housing and long working hours for parents) compounded each other. They discussed regional inequalities in health and wealth in terms of both a North – South divide and more locally between neighbouring areas. They also described how health inequalities were perpetuated over generations.
You can find out more about our project on our Fairer Health webpages.
About our Festival of the Mind Exhibition
For Festival of the Mind we have teamed up with Ignite Imaginations – a local participatory arts organisation. Find out more about them at the Ignite Imaginations website.
The organisation has a pool of talented and professional artists who work in many different communities and so we connected with their artist Lois Conlan.
After reading about the research, Lois created a series of 4 arts-based workshops, to build upon the research with young people. Lois was invited to work with 8 young people who were supported by Chilypep and YMCA Barnsley and the next stage is for their thoughts and ideas to be used as centre stage within the final installation ready for the Festival. Across the summer Lois will be moving into the design and building process of the sculpture; from sound editing, drawing up technical designs for the carpenter and creating files ready to be cut on the laser cutter.
- Researchers from the University of Sheffield
- Fuse (University of Durham and Newcastle University)
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH)
- The Health Foundation
- Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID)
- Colleagues in local authority public health
- National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
- School for Public Health Research (SPHR), Grant Reference Number PD-SPH-2015
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.