Kevin Franks, Just 4 Youth

Describe your role
I am Operations director for Just 4 Youth a social enterprise company working across the North East; in the development of youth involvement and peer support work offering a unique way of working with young people, providing young person-led delivery, training, research and consultancy. We do the following:

  • Work closely with young people to maximise their involvement in the development of youth participation
  • Manage, lead and coach staff to ensure that they are performing effectively; delivering a high quality service to meet the needs of young people

I am also Chair of the North East Regional Active Participation network (RAP). The RAP group is in partnership with Participation Works, and has an extended membership of workers from across the region that meet together to share good practice and promote participation work in its wider sense.

What makes a good participation worker?
A good participation worker is someone who:

  • Makes sure they have young people involved from the start of the process, involved in planning and leading on activities
  • Provides support to the young people as & when they need it
  • Provide training for adults and young people to give them the skills and knowledge to enable them to work together
  • Never assumes what young people want – Always asks young people first
  • Keeps young people informed – even if it is not what they might want to here!
  • Uses a range of incentives and rewards to recognise young people’s participation
  • Makes participation fun!

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

  • Adult perceptions of young people
  • Time & resources, including funding, to do ‘meaningful participation’
  • Adequately skilled and knowledgably staff

What are the benefits?

  • Improves access to services; promotes equality and diversity and helps to inform staff development programmes
  • Provides evidence of meeting legislative requirements and enables services to do well in inspections
  • More importantly it saves money by getting services right in the first instance by valuing young people’s contribution

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
See what makes a good participation worker above

What is effective participation?
Effective participation means taking involvement further by involving children and young people in shared decision making that leads to real change.  It is based upon respecting and valuing children and young people views and their rights, responding to their needs and results in young people developing new skills and increased confidence.

Kevin Franks is the Participation Works Network for England Regional Coordinator for the North East.

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