Clare Davis, Gloucestershire County Council

Describe Your Role
I have been working within participation, engagement and consultation for about 4 years now, starting in Patient and Public Involvement in health, moving on to service user and carer participation for Social Services, then leading on consultation for the whole of the council and now my current post.

Most recently I have been working with our libraries department on how they can effectively engage children and young people in designing new libraries, our children and young people’s directorate on how children and young people can be engaged in the governance arrangements for the children and young people’s strategic partnership in Gloucestershire and also our waste management team on making sure the consultation on the waste strategy includes consultation with children and young people.

What makes a good participation worker?
This is something you could write so much about, but here are some of the things that I believe are really important: -

  • someone who can communicate effectively with a very wide range of people,
  • someone who has the ability to make things accessible and understandable to the people they are working with,
  • someone who can empathise with others,
  • someone who is confident and not afraid to ensure the people they are working with are listened to and their views are acted upon,
  • someone who isn’t afraid to challenge or question,
  • someone who isn’t afraid to say ‘No’ to a piece of work if they believe it will be tokenistic or won’t make a difference,
  • someone who can be creative and who knows that PowerPoint is not the only way to present something!
  • you need a very good sense of humour!

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

I’m sure everyone already knows these, but here goes: -

  • don’t give anyone unrealistic expectations,
  • be 100% honest with the children and young people you are working with,
  • ensure there is always sufficient prep time for you and your children and young people,
  • don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to people who are asking for children and young people engagement if you think it will be tokenistic or not worthwhile,
  • spend time telling non-participation workers what participation is and why it’s good!

What is effective participation? With this question you could go one for ever, but I believe at the core of effective participation is people being involved in things that could affect their lives and their contribution is as valued as any other persons. Their views genuinely have an impact on any decision that is made and, more importantly, they are a part of the decision making process.

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