Listening to and acting upon the views of children and young people is crucial to providing better services.
We want to engage even more children and young people in the decisions we make. To do this, we have a new Participation Strategy ‘Nothing About Me, Without Me'. It sets out the steps we need to take to amplify young people’s voices. We aim to increase the level of influence they have on the decisions that affect them both now and in the future.
I need to be more than a place at the table. Don’t just invite me because it feels like the right thing to do.
We've answered some commonly asked questions below:
What is youth participation?
To us, youth participation means that children and young people, like you, have every opportunity to take part, be heard and see real change as a result of what you’ve told us. Participation is all about being involved in the decisions that affect you.
Do I have a right to participate in decisions that affect me?
Yes! Your right to participate in decisions that affect you is listed in a legal document called the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, also known as the UNCRC.
One of the things the UNCRC does is to make it clear that human rights apply to children and young people as much as they do to adults. This means that every child and young person has the right to express themselves and have their views considered in everything that affects them.
What are the benefits of youth participation?
Meaningful participation benefits everybody. We can learn so much from you. Your participation can help us to identify new opportunities and shape our way of thinking for years to come.
For children and young people, you'll:
- have more chances to have a say in the things that matter to you
- feel more in control of the decisions that affect your life
- develop skills in decision making, influencing, communication, confidence and resilience
- gain a greater understanding of your own – and other people’s – needs and rights.
- meet new people, make new friends and experience new things; all while building your CV with fantastic experiences to support your future career.
For us, your participation in our work helps us get a deeper understanding of your wants, needs, wishes and feelings.
By working collaboratively with you, our services and programmes will meet real needs, rather than just the ones we feel are important. Your views and lived experiences will help us make better decisions. Working with you will keep us better connected to children and young people, so we will have a better understanding of what you want and need. This will also make our practice more inclusive. And help us to spend the money we have in better ways.
What types of youth participation opportunities can I get involved in?
There are lots of different ways you can get involved and have a say in what we do. This includes (but isn't limited to) invitations to attend workshops and meetings with decision makers, speaking opportunities at events, campaigning for change and more.
How will you ensure I have a good experience when participating in different opportunites?
The most important thing we can do is to listen to you. And, with help from young people, we’ve created seven guiding stars to participation. These guiding stars have been set by young people, and ALL staff across Action for Children will follow them. These are empower, respect, equity, recognition, safety and fun.
If at any point you don’t think we have followed these guiding stars, it’s important that you hold us to account. You can feedback on your experiences at any time, be that good or bad, we want to hear from you!
Do I need any experience to participate?
We’re happy to hear from all young people, whether you use our services or not. We're particularly keen to hear from young people who have lived experience or knowledge in one or more of the following topics:
- Family support
- Children in care
- Disabled children
- Mental health and wellbeing
You will be fully supported by our participation team to ensure you get the best possible experience when working with us.
All young people's ideas should be considered and adapted to fit wherever possible.
To make sure you have the best possible experiences with us, we'll follow a set of six guiding stars. These guiding stars have been created by young people, and ALL staff across Action for Children will follow them. You said:
We should be involved in decisions that affect us, so we can feel in control of our lives.
We want you to get involved. Your voices matter and must be heard!
We're always looking to hear what you think, especially on ideas of how we can do better. But we know that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.
To find out more about the ways you can get involved, email us at [email protected].