My name is Imogen (or @imydoesmed on Instagram) and I am a 5th year medical student at St John’s College, a trustee of YoungMinds, and senior facilitator of Cambs Youth Panel. I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected as a winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Award!
For me, social action takes many forms- from making Instagram reels to demystify Oxbridge, to meeting MPs in parliament to campaign for better mental health services, to empowering young people to design a one-of-a-kind youth centre here in Cambridge.
My social action journey began when I was 15 years old and I saw a Facebook advert to join a Youth Panel for the mental health charity YoungMinds. 8 years later and I am still volunteering for YoungMinds, except now I am on the Board of Trustees!
It is difficult to overstate the impact that this has had on my life. I have been able to use the challenges I have faced as a positive force for change.
Social action has allowed me to find my voice, find my purpose and share that with others.
In many ways I have grown up with YoungMinds. From preparing for my GCSEs to now almost graduating as a doctor, I have been a part of YoungMinds as we have more than tripled in size. I have seen progress: awareness of mental health is increasing and stigma is reducing. I have faith that fewer young people are experiencing the same lack of support and awareness as I did. However there is still so much work to do. Young people’s mental health is in crisis and our #EndTheWait campaign is fighting to change this.
Aged 15 I became the youngest member of the charity’s first ever Youth Panel. This was the first time young people had been involved in the governance of YoungMinds. At 20, I became one of the first young people to become a non-executive director and join the board of trustees. Young people are hugely under-represented on charity boards and I am passionate about the value of youth voice in governance.
This is something we continue to build on at YoungMinds and set an example for other charities. I am now a member of the People and Governance Committee. In particular, I have been the trustee lead in the service re-design of the Parent’s Helpline. This is the only service of its kind, offering free and confidential advice, emotional support and signposting for trusted adults. It is a huge privilege to be able to shape such important services!
Fundamentally, I want to use my experiences to make the world a better place. And I want to empower others, especially young people, to do the same.
Locally, I support young people to begin their own social action journeys as a senior facilitator of Cambs Youth Panel. Cambs Youth Panel are a group of local young people (aged 11–18) who tackle issues and engage in active citizenship. I was able to co-lead our 6 month project to increase covid vaccine uptake in young people alongside Phil Priestley, the Panel’s founder. Our vaccine access campaign was a huge success and led to us being awarded the BBC Cambridgeshire Make a Difference award!
Recently, St John’s College generously allowed us to host our first Winter Wonderland Event in the Old Divinity School. This completely free event, funded through donations, targeted disadvantaged communities through community groups. This was a huge success with over 600 guests and 300 gifts distributed, with the remainder donated to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.
There is much more I could say but I’ll finish by saying if you are interested in making a difference and supporting youth voice in Cambridgeshire please get in touch. We have lots and lots going on such as planning for our second winter wonderland event, reducing health inequalities through Minecraft and rolling out our iGlu youth centres. We are always looking for partners and supporters!
See more about the #EndTheWait campaign here: [https://www.youngminds.org.uk/support-us/join-the-movement/end-the-wait/]
Read more about Cambs Youth Panel here: