Rosie Ferguson, London Youth

Describe your role
As Head of Youth Action at London Youth I lead a great team who work to create opportunities for young people to design, deliver and learn from their own projects and activities. These enable young people to take on leadership roles that benefit themselves and their local communities. We work through London Youth’s network of 400 youth clubs across the capital. We run a Youth Leadership Programme for young people who want to volunteer in youth clubs, a YouthWorks Programme that trains up a new generation of young youth-workers with a specialism in Youth Action and an exciting programme of diversity projects. We also work with Dare London, our Youth Advisory Board, in partnership with the GLA and Summer Uni London. I have just taken on the role of regional coordinator for the PWNE London Region.

What makes a good participation worker?
For me, the most important thing is that young people are involved in making change and not just in talking about it. Youth Action is about more than giving young people a voice, but supporting young people to find their legs to run away with their ideas and their hands to make practical change happen. A good participation worker needs to be flexible, energetic and open-minded!

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
I think the biggest barrier is the skills and reach of adults working with young people. The more skilled and well-resourced youth-workers we have, the more young people can have access to participation. Young people themselves should not be defined as ‘hard to reach’. Our job is to ensure we have workers that are ‘able to reach out’.

What are the benefits?
Youth Action and participation can help young people to grow into active, engaged and confident adults. Communities’ benefit through young people’s engagement in their local area and from young people taking responsibility for their surroundings.
What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
Take time to build strong relationships with the young people you are working with and make sure you involve them in evaluating their own progress and that of the project or group. This ensures they reflect on what they learn and take that learning forward.

What is effective participation?
Effective participation is about something changing for the better through a meaningful process of action or expression.

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