Camille Clearie, Children's Fund Plymouth Partnership

Describe your role
I am a Participation Worker for the Plymouth Children’s Fund that is managed by a local charity called the Routeways Centre Ltd. I have been in post for just over four years. I work on a full time basis and spend most of my time developing Participation in partnership with the children and young people of Plymouth.

Over the four years my role has evolved to enable me to work with children and young people to develop many different events and projects with children and young people

  • Children and young person led conference called Kidz TLK Plymouth,
  • Co facilitate a child friendly version of Plymouth’s Children’s Services three year strategic plan,
  • An evaluation of Children’s Fund commissioned services with the Cool School Evaluators a group of primary school children
  • Co-design and deliver training in the Participation Standards tool kit created for Children’s Fund commissioned services.
  • To most recently running a project for 11 Million Take Over Day based on the Apprentice- in partnership with a local High School.

What makes a good participation worker?
Someone who really listens to and is passionate about children and young peoples lives, who wants to enable them to challenge the decision makers who believes in their ability to make the right choices and is always realistic about the level of change they can impact.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
Firstly I think it is important to say that over the last four years a lot has changed as a result of Government legislation, children and young peoples participation has been recognised both nationally and at a local level. On a personal level the barriers I face in my role are challenging people to see the value of participation as an integral part of their work and not just as an add on. Quite often the barriers are founded in the services fear of being inadequate. Time is also a barrier to real participation, as many services don’t understand the importance we place on developing a relationship with children and young people and how it is key to our success, things don’t happen over night.

What are the benefits?
The benefits are huge for all involved. The children and young people have the opportunity to challenge negative perceptions that the media present through their positive engagement in services that affect their lives. Self esteem and confidence is improved which in turn impacts on their lives as a whole. Children and young people also have ownership over the services that affect them and their peers. As a Participation Worker I am able to see the children and young people develop into mature committed young people with a voice worth listening to.

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
Remember not to loose touch about why you do the job you do and that you are to be taken on a journey by the children and young people you are working with. To always be honest with them about the level of change they can impact and to listen to what they have to say. To inform them to the best of your ability and enable them to become involved as much as they want to be.

What is effective participation?
It is when children and young people have been involved as much or as little as they want to be and when they have an impact on the way services are designed and delivered. It is fundamental that you use appropriate methods and techniques depending on the child or young person’s individual needs, most importantly though is it is only effective when the children and young people enjoy what they are doing and are willing participants.

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