Rachel Rogers

Describe your role

I work for Action for Children in Dorset where I facilitate Dorset Kidz, the Dorset Children in Care Council. 

What makes a good participation worker?

First and foremost you need to be a multi-tasker, good at consultation, negotiation, motivation, active listening, a self-starter, a campaigner, a good organiser, both practical and creative.  You need to be able to work with people of different ages and backgrounds with differing points of view, from children in care to the service directors and elected members.  You have to have the confidence to report back what young people have said, however unwelcome it might be, and to follow up with service providers to ensure that they are making appropriate changes and improvements. And you need to be resilient and never give up.
 
What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

There are many barriers to involving children and young people. Participation workers need to earn their trust and the trust of the people who care for them.  Many young people don’t have the confidence to participate so you need to engage with the team around the child, with social workers and foster carers being key players, so that they are encouraged to make their voice heard.  Different themes and activities appeal to different young people so you have to vary your approach. Finance is always an issue and Dorset is a rural county so transport is always a barrier. And you have to recognise that young people have competing priorities and that consultation may not always be top of the list.

What are the benefits?

You see young people develop the confidence to speak out about their experiences and witness the changes that those experiences can make for other young people in a similar situation.

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

Make sure you know what you want to achieve before you start.  Make sure that what you aim to achieve is meaningful not tokenistic. Don’t consult with young people unless you are willing to change your provision and have the resource to do so.  Make sure that young people understand that you won’t be able to do everything they ask but that you will give good reasons why that is the case.  Make sure you value every contribution otherwise you will deter people from speaking out. And always feedback about what has and hasn’t changed and why. 

What is effective participation?

Effective participation is about including young people in making the decisions that impact on their lives.  It’s about finding out what young people think about the services they receive, making sure that information is channelled back appropriately, that changes are made and that that information goes back to the young people so they can see the impact that their views have had.  And it’s about having a bit of fun while you are at it.

 

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