Young Inspectors report on the quality of services that affect their lives

Local authorities are finding new ways to maintain projects that give young people the opportunity to inspect and report on the quality of services that affect their lives.

In a recent article in Children and Young People Now about the Young Inspectors programme several examples of successful Young Inspectors schemes were examined including Calderdale Council, one of 22 across the country continuing after the initial 2 year Youth4U - Young Inspectors pilot phase finished in March 2011.

The funding from the pilot enabled local authorities to employ local support workers who recruited and trained more than 1,450 marginalised young people, paid them for their inspections and provided them with support.

Rob Glover who was the support worker at Calderdale commented: "It was about taking a group of challenging young people, moving them along from just being passive recipients of services to active stakeholders, feeling that people were willing to listen to their opinions. Some of the services being inspected thought that the young people were just going to rubbish them. But because their recommendations were often simple and straightforward, such as making posters more attractive, making timetables clearer or opening at the weekend, they did their best to implement them. So there was a nice reciprocal arrangement between the two parties."

Since the pilot finished Participation Works now offers the Young Inspectors package. The ‘package’ comprises of a group of 9 'stand alone' modules, each module consisting of an integrated package of information, resources and defined consultancy support. The complete package develops local staff to support and train young people to conduct objective assessments of local services, make recommendations, follow-up and then support recommendations for service improvements.

Young Inspectors as part of the commissioning process

Councils are employing a number of strategies to run youth inspection schemes in their area, mindful of the need to keep a tight rein on spending.

Some authorities are linking young inspector projects to their commissioning process by writing a requirement into contracts that organisations pay for inspections from young inspectors.

Mandy Douglas, National Children’s Bureau’s programme director for partnership and involvement, says: "For a local authority, that supports twofold what they’re doing – it makes sure that the service they’re commissioning is still relevant and it enables them to resource the young inspector service."

Providing or procuring young inspector services across council boundaries can help councils generate income for the projects or provide a solution for councils that cannot afford to train or maintain a group of inspectors. This is a route taken by Barking and Dagenham Council, which has been commissioned to provide young inspectors to audit services in neighbouring Redbridge Council.

For more information about Young Inspectors have a look at our page on the programme or contact Selina Orrel on selina.orrell@byc.org.uk or 020 7250 8380.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB