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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Midlothian 100 Day Challenge: Children and Young People Taking the Lead

A few months have passed since the People Powered Results team completed its first ever 100 Day Challenge in Scotland.

The Challenge focused on improving mental health and wellbeing for children and young people in Midlothian, and was designed to act as a catalyst for action within a broader five-year project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Nesta worked in partnership with Midlothian Council and Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Improvement Hub to support three multi-agency teams to think differently about the support currently on offer to children and young people.

The Challenge involved 42 team members from 19 different organisations, including schools, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and numerous others from the statutory, voluntary, and community sectors - all working together in new ways to listen and respond to what children, young people, families and carers need.

The three teams tested out ideas that would help different groups: children moving from primary to secondary school, young people transitioning from secondary school to college, and care-experienced young people across Midlothian.

A picture of some of the people who took part in the Midlothian 100 Day Challenge

Celebrating reaching day 100!

Children and young people’s voices at the heart of everything

What really stood out in this Challenge was the sheer commitment each team had towards genuinely listening and involving children and young people, their families and carers. All three teams based their ideas on what people felt would make an actual difference, and two teams also had people with lived experience involved as team members throughout the 100 days. This kept children and young people’s voices at the heart of everything teams did, and helped to shape the Challenge’s direction in unexpected and helpful ways. For instance:

  • One team wanted to help young people moving from secondary school to college. They started by gathering insights from over 150 14-17 year old pupils to understand where they should focus their attention. In response to what they heard, they trained just under 100 trusted adults in Mental Health First Aid so young people know who to ask for support when they need it. They also supported students to design and deliver mental health content for PSE sessions, with 59% agreeing that their knowledge about mental health had increased.
  • Another team tested providing dedicated CAMHS consultation time for kinship carers for the first time. They were able to agree a plan to trial and evaluate the impact of kinship carers being supported directly by CAMHS, building their capacity to support the children and young people they care for.
  • Furthermore, the third team asked one class of pupils aged 9-10 what they thought would make their classroom more conducive to improving wellbeing. They then encouraged the children to lead on redesigning it themselves, giving them the opportunity to bring their ideas to life. This was a move away from "business as usual," and helped the children to have a genuine say in shaping their learning environment. The classroom now has a designated quiet space, and 26 pupils created their own personalised emotional wellbeing toolboxes.

In total, 175 children, young people, families and carers were involved in Midlothian’s 100 Day Challenge and the experience has set a precedent for this to continue, so that people with lived experience continue to play a central role in shaping the programmes and services that affect them.

A visual representation of the work undertaken by children during the 100 Day Challenge

Pupils have a say on what would make their school environment better

People with lived experience are meaningfully involved

The learning from Midlothian has had a knock-on effect on the People Powered Results team in terms of our own approach to co-production - as we work to apply the same commitment shown by teams in Scotland to new programmes of work.

We’re constantly evolving how we approach the design of 100 Day Challenges to ensure that people with lived experience are meaningfully involved every step of the way; from the initial design of the Challenge through to team member and leadership group participation during the active implementation phase, we are committed to supporting new partnerships with those directly impacted by the changes being introduced. In doing so, we aim to forge new relationships between citizens, front-line practitioners and leaders – not only to help them re-imagine what’s possible for the future of health and care, but to build that future together.

To find out more about the work of the People Powered Results team read our report reflecting on five years of the 100 Day Challenge.


Robin Speedie

Robin Speedie

Robin Speedie

Programme Manager, People Powered Results

Robin was a Programme Manager in the Health Lab at Nesta.

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Elena Sabatini

Elena Sabatini

Elena Sabatini

Senior Manager, People Powered Results

Elena was a senior manager in the Health Lab at Nesta, her work focused on People Powered Results.

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