Elizabeth Harding, North West Participation Network

Describe your role as regional coordinator for the PWNE North West Network?
Co-ordinating the PWN-NW gives me the opportunity to meet many inspirational people working with young people in different settings across the region. I suppose that is what I get from the role. The role is pretty much what it says on the tin. I coordinate the network by chairing the steering group. The steering group in turn direct the activities that the network undertakes. We act as a hub for information and having the regional overview enables us to put people in touch with other.  There is a tremendous interest in participation from a whole range of services and my role allows me to talk to those services and hook them into existing work.

What are the benefits of membership of the PWNE North West Regional network?
Membership of the regional network of course opens up the PWNE to a wide range of people. At a regional level membership put you a few clicks of a mouse away from support, help and new ideas. Members can use the network to seek opinion, find out what other people are doing and ask to meet with peers. An example is a recent request to hold a meeting for people promoting and delivering participation work in schools. Members can get a reduced fee for regional conferences and events or even not pay at all!

What types of support is available to PWNE network members via the regional network?
Support can be directly from us here at the North West Regional Youth Work Unit by phone, meeting or by email. We can put you in touch directly with other members exploring the same issues, track down resources, trainers, speakers for events and get examples of policies etc. We work with members to help organise events and try and respond positively to what ever requests might come into us.

What makes a good participation worker?
I think it is very simple. A good participation worker is someone who likes young people and believes they have a positive contribution to make. Someone who is inspired by young people, who listens, can support and advise.

What tips do you have for effective participation?
Listen, take risks, be prepared to push at boundaries and always remember to feedback what ever the outcome is.

What is effective participation?
To be effective any participation structures and processes should be child and young person centred, offer support and keep children and young people informed on the impact of their contribution. Any organisation undertaking participative work should understand why they are doing it and have agreed principles and values underpinning the work without that you can not be effective.

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