Early Discovery in Northern Devon

Katie Potter and Ediane Santana de Lima

The past few months have been very busy for the Northern Devon team! We have been doing a lot of listening to many people across Northern Devon to get a broad understanding of what life is like for young people at the moment and what areas could be improved to support their wellbeing.  

Who have we spoken to?

Our main aim has been to speak to as many young people as we can, adults working directly with young people in North Devon, as well as adults with different roles across the community and systems.  During our early conversations in North Devon, we were advised to include Torridge in our remit due to its proximity and similar levels of deprivation to North Devon.  We responded to this and have engaged with young people and practitioners in both areas.

So far, we have spoken to 155 young people (aged 12-24). We have spoken to female, male, non-binary and transgender young people, including neurodivergent young people, those identifying as LGBTQIA+ and young people from racial minorities. 

We know that young people have different experiences depending on where they live, so we have done our best to cover a wide geographical area to ensure we are hearing from young people across North Devon and Torridge, including towns, villages and more remote locations. 

We have also spoken to 105 individuals from 46 different organisations.


We identified 10 of the 46 organisations as working directly with young people.

How have we done this?

We have gone through different routes and methods to engage and speak to young people. Some of our activities included:

As we spoke about in The Discovery Process blog, our conversations have been grounded in three main questions: 

What have we learned?

Asking these questions has allowed us to work with young people to build up a broad understanding of young people’s experiences of living in North Devon. We have learned a lot about what young people feel the strengths and positives of living in North Devon are, alongside what they find more challenging and feel needs to be improved, as well as what is missing completely. All of this has been framed by how young people themselves are defining wellbeing, and what they say determines their mental health and wellbeing. 

How have young people in North Devon defined wellbeing? 

Kailo is focused on understanding and addressing the wider determinants of young people’s mental health and wellbeing. There are many definitions out there for us to use, but for us it is really important that through this process we are building on these already formed definitions, and defining wellbeing and mental health in a way that is meaningful for the young people in Northern Devon. Working with young people to define what wellbeing means to them, ensures Kailo is contextually relevant to young people and their environments and that as we move through the Kailo process, we continue to be focused on what is important for young people.  

The image below highlights  how young people in North Devon have defined wellbeing.

What does wellbeing mean - Identity and Belonging Safety, feeling accepted and comfortable in the community

 Emerging ‘Opportunity Areas’ 

From our conversations, engagement and activities we had facilitated with young people, youth and community organisations and others working in the sector, we soon began to see 10 key themes (we’re calling them Opportunity Areas) emerging. According to what we have been hearing, these are areas that, if pursued, could have the potential to support and improve young people’s wellbeing across Northern Devon. 

Opportunity areas in North Devon

Next Steps 

After we had gathered all of this information with young people and the wider communities, we wanted to make sure that we had heard correctly, and that the way that we had framed the information made sense, and captured the essence of what people were saying to us.  

One way that we did this was by holding some ‘sense-making and feedback’ events in September where we heard from individuals and organisations who work with young people in North Devon.  We followed this with similar events to hear from young people who we have engaged with in this initial process.  Look out for future blog posts where we will be sharing what we learned from these events.

We have been so grateful for the way that we have been welcomed into the communities in Northern Devon- we have always said that we want the learning and activities of Kailo to be owned and driven by the community, so we are overjoyed to have had such energy, enthusiasm and engagement from so many people and organisations. 

What next?

Read about how we have played back these opportunity areas with young people and stakeholders in our upcoming blog.