#iwill NHS Youth Champion
1444. Gabrielle Mathews
Gabrielle Mathews, aged 22, from Coventry, is a medical student, #iwill ambassador and the youngest member of the NHS assembly who uses her platform to emphasise the importance of including young and community-based voices in conversations about improving care, particularly in response to COVID-19.
Gabrielle is also currently a Youth Expert Advisor to NHS England and the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board, and throughout the pandemic has regularly met with health leaders to advocate for children and young people’s health. This included working on the coordination of the launch of the “Young People Matter” message, shared by leading organisations from DofE to Scouts to Brook and Stonewall, in order to recognise the specific challenges that young people face in lockdown, and to recognise the contributions young people have made by: following guidance; supporting friends, families and communities; and stepping into the frontline as student nurses, medical students and other key worker roles.
In a personal letter to Gabrielle, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I wanted to express my gratitude and admiration for your work bringing the voices of young people to the table and helping our extraordinary NHS provide the very best of care in the battle against Coronavirus.
“I have been so uplifted by the way young people across our country have risen to the challenge, volunteering in their thousands to keep our communities safe and supported.
“So I am delighted to recognise your service to others by naming you as the UK’s 1444th Point of Light.”
“It is such a wonderful surprise to be celebrated as a ‘Point of Light’ today and I am so honoured. It is an enormous privilege to be able to effect change from the perspective of a young person and patient, both in the youth sector and NHS. I will continue to work to ensure that children and young people are never forgotten, particularly those who may not be able to advocate for themselves.
“My generation is going to be hardest hit by this pandemic but I know that even when facing hardship my peers will inspire me by taking positive action for themselves and others. I hope to see more young people recognised for their contributions, both in this pandemic and as we rebuild the future of our country.”
Rania Marandos, CEO of Step Up To Serve, the charity which coordinates the #iwill campaign, said:
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen young people continuing to make a positive difference, despite the pressing challenges they have had to face. They are following health guidance, caring for family members, supporting their peers and reaching out to help others in their communities.
“We are so pleased to see the Prime Minister recognising Gabrielle’s tireless work as an advocate for children and young people’s health and for their voices within the health system. Gabrielle is an eloquent Ambassador for youth social action, championing young people’s role as active citizens within and beyond the health sector. At the #iwill campaign we know that real change can be achieved when young people, organisations and leaders are able to work together in partnership – as Gabrielle’s work has so powerfully demonstrated.”
Picture: photo credit Ian Jones.