On Wednesday 5th February, I attended an event hosted by Children in Scotland sharing the findings from their new report, ‘Health Inequalities: peer research into the role of communities’. Led by Chris Ross, the project was undertaken by a group of young peer researchers, from Baldragon Academy and Dalmarnock Primary School, and the report is written from their perspective.
The aim of the project was to support the young peer researchers to explore the role of community and place in health, wellbeing and inequalities. The young peer researchers identified three main themes: safety, littering and family and friends, and collected information through focus groups and by taking photographs within the community.
Under the theme of ‘family and friends’ the young researchers found that going out for food regularly with family and friends was common, and that fast food restaurants were particularly common in both areas. It was noted that this backs up previous research by adults suggesting a higher density of fast food restaurants in areas of high deprivation. They also found that most of the food options were unhealthy and that choice was restricted, but they noted that these restaurants were cheaper and quicker for their parents.
In line with other research, children also felt the marketing, colours, logos and images used by fast food restaurants that they saw during their community walk rounds looked very inviting to children and young people.
Going out for food provided an important opportunity for children to socialise and spend time with their families, impacting on their wellbeing. Therefore, it was highlighted that while these opportunities have to be provided, there is a great need for more access to healthier food options, as well as making sure that other activities not involving food are accessible and affordable.
Throughout the event, pupils from Dalmarnock Primary School presented their research on stage in front of the room full of adults, clearly articulating their views, findings, and what they had learnt from the experience. They expressed their enjoyment of being involved and included in the project, making sure to let us know: it is not enough to just listen to children’s concerns, now we must do something about it.