My day at BiBFest; a day of great food, great music, and great science!


by Evan Seaman

After another fantastic Born in Bradford festival at Salts Mill on the 3rd and 4th of July 2023, we look back at some of the highlights of day 1 of the festival – targeting Bradford’s young population (11-18 year olds). 

Born in Bradford (BiB) is one of the UK’s largest research studies and tracks the lives of more than 30,000 people who live in Bradford. This was set up to help improve the health of families in the area. Prof John Wright, the Chief Investigator for BiB and Director of NIHR ARC Y&H, talks more about the project in detail: “BiB is a longitudinal population cohort study which is a bit of a mouthful, but basically we are following families, children when they are born, at Bradford Royal Infirmary and working out why some children fall sick, and others don’t”. 

In terms of my own personal experience of the festival, it was one that I will never forget. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement right from the off, as the drummers set the tone and the pupils engaged in the informative stalls that talked about the issues in modern society. Some of the stalls raised important points such as having assessments for neurodiversity if you are having problems with your studies, or social life. 

The first talk kicked off with the KCU Workshop, hosted by healthy minds apprentices Asher, Lauren, along with project worker Isha, which helped students to learn more about kindness, compassion and understanding as they grow up from childhood to adulthood. The workshop began with some fascinating music videos which showed stories that emphasized the key problems in society such as poverty and the stigma faced by members of the LGBT community. 

They also showed the students the importance of being respectful to everyone because you never know what issues someone is going through, whether it be mental or physical.  Discussions touched on topics such as neurodiversity, how everyone is different, and the need to understand everybody’s opinions. Lauren and Asher then went on to discuss the importance of being resilient, even when times are tough. They told the students some scenarios where you need to show this, such as being bullied or moving to secondary school. 

The next talk afterwards focused on mental health, hosted by Dr Ruth Wadman. Ruth and colleagues discussed the initial mental health findings from the BiB Age of Wonder project, the next phase of the Born in Bradford programme; they reported substantial increases in anxiety and depression compared to pre-pandemic rates, highlighting the major struggles that people under the age of 18 have had to face in the last few years. Addressing this mental health crisis in adolescence is something BiB wants to change for the better, and Dr John Pickavance discussed how BiB Age of Wonder is working with schools across Bradford to help achieve this.

Then there was lunch at Salts Diner. All the food was vegetarian, with a variety of sandwiches such as cheese and jam spread on offer. There were also hot meals on display which went down a treat with the students as they rushed to get into the queue for their veggie burger. 

Day 1 closed with an intriguing Question-and-Answer session with young people and local experts including Kersten England. Stating how “young people are experts about their own lives”, Kersten outlined how they (young people) know best how to deal with various challenges. The panel talked about the issues that young people in Bradford face in more detail and how Born in Bradford can help to overcome them. 

Throughout the Q&A session, the panel were encouraging young people to be politically active and spoke of how BiB have laid the foundations to ensure that all young people’s voices are heard. They also highlighted the importance of prevention rather than cure and that the early years of life are the most important.

So, to sum up day one of the BiB festival in a nutshell, I would say it is a landmark moment for the people of Bradford because it could be the turning point for them to completely change their lives

This blog was written by Evan Seaman, Born in Bradford Intern, Healthy Childhood theme, Yorkshire and Humber ARC, Sports Journalism Student at Leeds Trinity University and Social Media Manager at Ilkley Town AFC.

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