Laura Humphries, Berkshire East and South Bucks Women's Aid

Laura HumphriesDescribe your role

I work with children and young people who have all been affected by domestic abuse. This can involve meeting with the young people on a one to one basis, providing them with the opportunity to process and understand the violence and abuse they have experienced. I am responsible for arranging appropriate weekly activities for the children and young people to participate in. The activities range from focus groups such as healthy living workshops to fun summer activities like theme parks and sports day. The healthy living sessions are interactive sessions where we encourage the attendees to talk about their thoughts and feelings of healthy living and why it is imperative that healthy living becomes a part of their lives. Often we will support this learning by having cooking classes in the sessions which the young people all seem to enjoy.

What makes a good participation worker?

I feel it is important to have a deep understanding of ones role and responsibilities. It is so important to understand where the children are at and the importance of meeting them at their place and at their pace. I feel having passion and empathy are necessary attributes that will help contribute to a positive outcome.  It is important to be aware of other employees roles and understand the importance of collaborative working. Another vital characteristic would be enthusiasm. This quality can help to build people up and encourage other members of staff to give their best.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

I understand the importance of building children and young people’s trust and know how difficult it can be to obtain. Funding can be hard to obtain which can then limit what resources and activities we are able to interact with. Young people are all different and what interests one particular group of children and hold their attention may not be what holds another group. Often we endeavour to get around this by encouraging the group members to write their own weekly plans for the month. This teaches the children to be team players and encourages them to think of others.

What are the benefits?

In the focus groups we are always promoting an important message which will hopefully stand our attendees in good stead for their future. We offer the young people we support a time to heal and an opportunity to move on from what has happened in their lives.  It is hoped that we will provide the opportunity to build up positive attributes such as self worth and confidence.

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

We always aim to have a focus/purpose for each session/group we carry out with the young people. It is key that they feel involved in their session/group and often interactive activities work the best.

What is effective participation?

  • Interaction
  • Team work
  • Enthusiasm
  • Supporting group members to take ownership of their group.
  • Focus/purpose-determining what is the purpose of the group
  • Preparation
  • Initiative.
Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB