Supporting young people in place: A story of youth social action in Southwark 

As part of #iwill week, we want to showcase some of our work with fantastic youth projects like One Southwark which IVAR is supporting as a learning partner. In this post, we talk to Victoria Balogun, one of the 21 young people who are a part of One Southwark, about why she loves Southwark and her dream of providing high quality and culturally appropriate health promotion activities for her community. 

1. What do you love about Southwark and what is difficult for you/other young people living in Southwark?

I love that Southwark has abundant opportunities for young people to get involved in – programmes like One Southwark, Southwark Youth Parliament, Southwark Young Advisors, and more. 

As a young person, I also love having access to discounted leisure facilities and the Southwark Free Gym and Swim – this impressive scheme gives residents the means to care for their physical wellbeing. 

That said, living in Southwark can have its challenges. One of them is that despite the opportunities provided by Southwark council and various organisations, knowing where to find them can be challenging. It would be ideal if a community platform held all this information, particularly services that help people with their health and wellbeing.  

2. What would you like to change for young people/communities living in Southwark and how would you create this change?

I’m a medical student that’s passionate about health promotion, health equity and health policy. There are many preventable deaths each year, which means that had there been more effective public health interventions, many people may not have died. I would like us to support the community to improve their knowledge of what makes good health and wellbeing, and how to live healthier lifestyles.

How would I do this? Building my community project, Nurturd: a public health initiative that champions disease prevention through health promotion. I plan to use social media to provide information about a range of health topics, collaborate with other organisations promoting health and wellbeing, conduct research, and provide culturally competent workshops in the community. This would ensure we are protecting, promoting, and maintaining health and wellbeing for our community to prevent disease, disability, and death (aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3). I hope that by taking part, people from different backgrounds will benefit and feel more empowered to nurture their health and wellbeing. 

3. How is One Southwark helping you have an affect on your community?

I’m so excited about the networks I can now access. The One Southwark Programme Director frequently introduces me to a wide range of knowledgeable people with expertise in delivering successful community projects from who I can learn from and apply their insights to my project. The Programme Director, who is more like a mentor to me now, guides me to resources that help build my leadership, communication, project management, research skills and more. I can share and bounce ideas with him, and we set tasks with deadlines which helps to motivate me. One Southwark has also provided me with funding to develop and launch my project. One Southwark is helping me develop me as an individual and bring my community project to life.  

In our previous post, we talked to Will Cole, Programme Director, about One Southwark’s vision to use collective action to transform the lives and opportunities for young people experiencing disadvantage in Southwark. 

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