‘I want to help spread awareness about the power of youth volunteering in hospitals’

Posted on the 6th June 2022

My name is Beth and I am a young volunteer at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital (BWC) and an #iwill ambassador. I am writing to share the experiences and value of youth volunteering in hospitals, through my story and the story of others, for #PowerOfYouth day during Volunteers’ Week 2022.

The power of youth

#iwill is a movement involving over 1,000 organisations and 700 young ambassadors and champions from across the UK, sharing the belief that ‘all children and young people should be supported and empowered to make a positive difference on the issues that affect their lives, their communities, and broader society’.

Through #PowerOfYouth day, the movement aims to spread awareness to help young people feeling empowered, challenged, independent and included. Through working with our volunteer coordinators and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR), myself and many other young volunteers have been given a great opportunity to share why they volunteer and help spread awareness of the power of youth volunteering in hospitals.

How I got involved

My journey at BWC started because my brother was in and out of hospital for a few years. At the time, I don’t think I hated anything more than a hospital. I was too young to fully understand; I just thought it was so scary and I was worried what could happen to him. All I knew was if he was in hospital, it was bad. Now I walk around BWC in awe. It is such a special place where magic can happen. Once my brother was well again, I started to realise I had a passion for the healthcare system: I knew I wanted to be a nurse or paramedic, and I had so many ideas and improvements that could make the patients stay more comfortable.

Throughout the pandemic all I wanted to do was help. I felt so bad that I was at home, doing nothing but schoolwork, when I could be helping. Everywhere I contacted turned me down because I was under 18. When I was researching about BWC, I came across their Young Person’s Advisory Group (YPAG). I applied to join knowing little of what I was signing up to but joining YPAG changed my life for the better.

Making hospital more young person centred

YPAG is a youth engagement group made up of service users, siblings, or community members, who are 11-19 years old, and are passionate about the NHS. We try to make the hospital more young person centred and accessible by working with many different members of staff. Pre-pandemic, the group met up monthly at BWC, but the group has now adapted to meeting virtually every fortnight, if not more often.

The first project I was involved in was helping to make leaflets about a diabetes study more accessible for children. Now, since joining YPAG, I have become communications lead; supported the Big Build workshops, to assist in designing a new hospital; supported staff in their research; attended an orthopaedic conference as a panel member; interviewed staff, and so much more. For me, a personal highlight was attending the Big Build workshops. I loved listening to the staff’s passion when debating new ideas and developments. Every staff member brought a new angle on how the hospital could be changed for the better. I got to express a service user’s voice and aid decisions.

I love being part of the YPAG group at BWC. I have met many amazing young people and I have learnt so much from all of them. It really showcases the #PowerOfYouth!

With thanks to:


Beth is a Young Person’s Advisory Group member at Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital and an #iwill ambassador

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