Leoncha Leavy

Leoncha Leavy – Participation Manager at Centrepoint
Describe your role
My role as Participation Manager involves securing an effective participation strategy for Centrepoint and ensuring that this strategy is implemented effectively in practice to improve outcomes for all young people who are involved with Centrepoint.  My role highlights the importance and relevance of involving young people who have experienced homelessness in decisions that directly affect them within Centrepoint and supporting young people to meet and influence policy makers within local and national Government.

What makes a good participation worker?
Being able to listen to young people and support them to build their confidence and passion to truly believe that their voices can really inspire young people to make a difference in their lives and others.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
Young people not feeling they have a voice in the first place or will make any difference.  Many of the young people I work with at Centrepoint have experienced homelessness and insecure housing and often have not been given the opportunity to express their views or have any influence over decisions which are made that directly affects them.  Other barriers might involve other professionals giving up power or control to children and young people. 

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

  • Allowing young people to have the space to have a voice in the first place with their peers, encourage active debate and discussion.
  • Being up front with young people about what can be achieved, being realistic, not setting them up to fail with empty promises and ensuring that you always provide feedback when they have taken the time out to give their views
  • Avoiding tokenism when involving children and young people at all times. 

What are the benefits?

  • Participation makes the work you do more relevant, effective and influential on behalf of and with young people
  • Services will increasingly be built around real need
  • Young people are the real ‘drivers for change’
  • Young people will have an increased sense of purpose/ownership
  • As more young people become included, involved, exclusion will lessen

Participation improves:
Quality
Authority
Authenticity
Integrity
Legitimacy
What is effective participation?
Effective participation can be experienced when an organisation embraces the views of young people and uses this as the driving force to implement change and young people developing a thirst for change whether it relates to their lives or the young people they are representing.

 

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