Bucks Youth Summit 2023 – Mental Health


The Mental Health conversation space was hosted in a large, bright area of The Waterside Theatre called the Noman Bragg studio. Tucked around a corner from The Queer Space, background noise from the other conversations was low and calming music played in the space, providing a relaxed atmosphere. The Mental Health conversation space had different stations for young attendees to interact with.

Four young people from the Youth Voice and Article 12 forums helped to plan this conversation space.


Silent debate wall

Natasha and Irit from Barnardo’s, along with three Youth Voice members acting as young facilitators, hosted a silent debate wall on two important topics:

  • The mental and emotional impact of learning about the climate crisis
  • How accessing nature creates wellbeing for young people

The silent debate wall was a big pinboard with a title and questions written on it. Young people could express their thoughts on the questions, wider topics, and each other’s comments with sticky notes, drawings, and thumbs up and emoji stickers.

Seed-planting station

Lindengate provided a seed-planting station. Young people could come and plant seeds for flowers and fruits and vegetables in small pots. While they planted, they spoke to Jacqui from Lindengate about nature, gardening, growing, and the Green Volunteens programme that Lindengate runs. At the end of the session, the young people collected their pots in paper bags to take home. 82 seed pots were planted in total!

Jacqui also brought a young person from the Green Volunteens programme who acted as a young facilitator on the day.

Table conversation: volunteering & wellbeing

Paige from Aylesbury Youth Action facilitated conversations about the 5 ways to wellbeing, one of which is “Give”.

Young people were invited to sit at the table and talk about their experiences with volunteering and how volunteering and positive mental wellbeing is linked.

As they spoke, young people wrote ways that they support their own mental health on gift tags, which they hung on a small model tree.

young person adding sticky note to a wall

Silent debate wall

people planting seeds

Seed-planting station

girl looking at tree with tags

Table conversation: volunteering & wellbeing

What did young people say?

The key findings from the Mental Health conversation space were:

  • Many young people value nature and consciously use it as a place to de-stress. Many young people spoke about enjoying going to the canal, going on walks, getting fresh air, and gardening.
  • Young people would like more information on opportunities available to them to learn about and interact with nature. Despite living rurally, some young people feel nature is not always accessible.
  • Young people don’t know where to go to access information about volunteering.
  • Learning about climate change can impact how young people think about the future and their personal responsibility. No young people asked explicitly for mental health support to cope with climate change. Instead there was a focus on awareness raising and ways to act. When learning about the climate crisis, some young people want to hear stories of success alongside what needs to change.

So what?

Following the Bucks Youth Summit…


  • Aylesbury Youth Action (AYA) are collating the messages that young people added to the wellbeing tree into a resource that can be used by young people as inspiration for ways to support your mental health.

Wellbeing Tree resource coming soon!


  • AYA are also looking to support more young people into volunteering by expanding their offer of volunteering and work experience programmes and partnering with schools. If you are interested in volunteering opportunities for young people, you can email volunteer@aylesburyyouthaction.co.uk.
    If you’re not based in Aylesbury, AYA can help you find something local to you.


  • The feedback collected at the silent debate wall has been made into a report, called “A Greta Future: Insights from the Bucks Youth Summit”. This report includes photos and quotes from young people.

Read the Greta Future report

Insights from the young people that took part in the silent debate wall at the Youth Summit have been coupled with input from 130 Barnardo’s staff members and used to draft recommendations. These recommendations have been shared with Barnardo’s senior leadership to take forward, to determine how Barnardo’s can support children, young people and families’ wellbeing through the climate crisis.


  • Several schools whose students engaged enthusiastically with the climate conversations have been invited to take part in a Climate Action project. Led by InterClimate Network, this project supports young people to explore climate-friendly steps that their school could implement through a peer research project.

Find out more about the InterClimate Network project

John Colet, Prices Risborough, Kingsbrook and Sir Henry Floyd Grammar schools have signed up to take part, and more schools are welcome to join. For more information, please contact rachel.shepherd@interclimate.org.


  • Lindengate are looking to host a workshop for up to 24 young people this Summer, to provide young people with skills, knowledge, and confidence in growing and supporting the environment. You can express your interest by emailing suzanne.cheshire@lindengate.org.uk.
    Young people are also welcome to join Lindengate’s Green Volunteens programme at any time, which gives young people the chance to learn new skills, meet new friends, and support the environment, while benefitting from their time connected with nature.


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