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Inequalities in young people’s wellbeing revealed by #BeeWell survey

04 Apr 2023

The latest #BeeWell survey demonstrates that while the wellbeing of young people across Greater Manchester has remained stable over the past two years, girls and LGBTQ+ young people have again reported significantly lower levels of wellbeing


Greater Manchester’s #BeeWell programme has released findings from the survey of school pupils in Years 9 and 10 which took place in Autumn 2022. 

#BeeWell measures the wellbeing of young people annually, and brings together various partners from across Greater Manchester. The programme originates from a collaboration between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, our University, the Anna Freud Centre and the Gregson Family Foundation.

The latest survey heard the voices of 35,000 young people from across the city-region, building on 38,000 responses in the previous year.  Over 180 schools took part in #BeeWell over two years, showing immense support for young people’s wellbeing particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest survey results reveal new and in-depth detail on the wellbeing of young people across the city-region. The four key headline findings developed with the #BeeWell Youth Steering Group are:

  • The inequalities identified in Year 1 of the #BeeWell data have persisted; girls are reporting significantly lower levels of wellbeing than boys, and LGBTQ+ young people have significantly lower wellbeing than their cisgender heterosexual peers. The data remains consistent when comparing two different cohorts of Year 10 pupils across the two years.
  • Wellbeing scores have declined slightly as young people have moved from Year 8 into Year 9. This is in line with wider research about how young people’s wellbeing declines as they get older.
  • As young people get older, they are less likely to feel like they get enough sleep to feel awake throughout the school day. 41.8% of Year 9 students report that they aren’t getting enough sleep to concentrate at school, which is around 9 young people in an average class of 22. This is compared to 36% of Year 8 pupils who said they do not get enough sleep in 2021.
  • There has been a decline in young people reporting that they have good places to spend free time. In 2021, 75.5% of young people in Year 8 agreed or strongly agreed that they had good places to spend free time, compared to 67.6% of those young people when they were surveyed again in Year 9 in 2022.

The #BeeWell survey results have overall remained consistent over the two years of the programme, meaning that there is an increased confidence on how accurate the findings are – as over 60,000 young people have given their views.

In response to the findings, the #BeeWell Coalition of Partners and Greater Manchester schools have already begun to take action to respond to what young people across the city-region are saying. This includes investment to support the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ young people, to encourage girls to get involved in physical activity, and the completion of a social prescribing and youth-led investment pilot in five neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester.

“Our latest set of findings reinforce the value of the #BeeWell programme, and highlight once more the need for action to tackle inequalities experienced by vulnerable and marginalised groups,” said Professor Neil Humphrey, academic lead for #BeeWell. “We have a 10-year plan to take #BeeWell to scale nationally and create a public policy agenda for young people that gives equal weight to wellbeing and attainment.”

"The #BeeWell surveys have facilitated a real breakthrough in conversations about young people’s health, wellbeing, and activity,” said Cllr Mark Hunter, Greater Manchester Portfolio Lead for Young People. "The results have helped to shape some important changes in Greater Manchester to support young people and their wellbeing. This year’s findings show that more action needs to be taken to tackle the inequalities in wellbeing between girls and boys, and with LGBTQ+ young people. The support of Greater Manchester’s schools has been integral to #BeeWell, and in Year 2 shows how schools have used the survey results to make positive changes for their pupils. I am looking forward to Year 3 of the survey and the positive changes the results will initiate.”

“The #BeeWell data has enabled us to understand our community with greater focus - we are able to react strategically to areas of fragility and celebrate the strengths and feedback we gain from our young people," said Glyn Potts MBE DL, Headteacher at Saint John Henry Newman Catholic College in Oldham. “Put simply, it is the closest we have to a microscope into the minds of our young people and enables us to be reactive to their needs and a stronger community.”

“The Youth Steering Group weren’t surprised that there remain inequalities in young people’s wellbeing in Greater Manchester - unfortunately, it is what we see in school every day, particularly pressure on girls," said Ruby, a member of the #BeeWell Youth Steering Group. “It’s good that the data remained consistent – it means things aren’t getting worse and gives us hope that things can get better.”

"The Youth Steering Group would like to open a conversation about how difficult it is for young people to find the balance between your emotions and all the things you have to get done in a day before you can get enough sleep. There are a lot of expectations on young people with homework, revision, caring for ourselves as well as others, especially as you get older. We want to extend this conversation to include adults' wellbeing, too, as they set expectations for younger generations on managing everything that matters to our wellbeing.”