Claire Dever, UK Youth

claire deverDescribe your role

I am responsible for the successful development and delivery of youth-led ICT communications and youth participation work. I also support young people’s active engagement in research and development of UK Youth programmes, in particular the young people of UK Youth Voice (UKYV) to shape services of UK Youth. The young people of UKYV are dedicated to giving young people aged 16-25 a voice and are involved in a wide range of our events and activities including taking part in Government consultations, running an annual youth conference, dealing with press enquiries and take part in our role in the European Confederations of Youth Clubs (ECYC) meetings held annually across Europe. They are seen as a model of good practice in the field of youth participation.

What makes a good participation worker?

Someone who understands the need to find the right balance of support, without interference; encouraging independence, without abandonment. You have to know when to step in and when to sit back. Understanding group dynamics is essential to nurturing individual strengths and build on their areas on development in order to get the group to function effectively and establish an identity. Creating a partnership way of working with the young people requires trust, respect and a vast amount of rapport, but when it works - it really works!

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

Bringing a diverse group together to form a decision-making group and instilling a sense of identity can be tricky! Group members will bring a wide range of confidence levels and life experiences. Some will need more support than others. It’s important to be aware of the personal and practical challenges that young people may face.

What are the benefits?

The benefits to involving young people are endless, especially to the young people themselves – better communication, leadership, teamwork skills as well as a real sense of being valued and being part of something that aims to make positive changes. One young person UK Youth worked with said “if it wasn’t for UK Youth, I wouldn’t have anything on my CV”. Helping young people to have a voice can have a massive impact on organisations and the wider community – they know what they want and just need the platform to be able to express it.

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?

Show you are serious about involving young people – allow young people to be more involved in decision making giving them access to your Trustee board. UK Youth has 3 young people plus a young Vice Chair on its board of Trustees and it works amazingly well. They are involved in decision making at the highest level and we get to hear from the experts – young people - who can help us with strategic planning, ensuring our services remain relevant.

What is effective participation?

Effective participation is when every member feels valued and has a fulfilling and non-tokenistic role. It’s when you are allowed to be innovative and adapt and change with the times.

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