Ruth Charles, Girlguiding UK

Describe your role
I’m the Project Coordinator for Youth Participation within Girlguiding UK. My role is varied ranging from overseeing the young people who plan and run Girlguiding UK’s Youth Forum, supporting our British Youth Council (BYC) delegation to generally helping the organisation assess how they are involving girls and young women in decision making and throughout the organisation.

What makes a good participation worker?
Someone who is determined, enthusiastic and up for a challenge, who values what young people can do and what young people can bring to an organisation/project. Someone who listens to the needs of the young people they are working with and who isn’t afraid of change.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
Perceptions of what children and young people can achieve – as practitioners we know what children and young people bring to projects and organisations but there is a need to educate the wider population. Organisations need to value youth participation rather then just going through the motions.

What are the benefits?
Relevant organisations and projects, fresh perspectives and young people then have ownership of their projects.

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
Don’t be scared of children and young people – you need to be prepared for their imagination and also aware of the fact they may well plan or organise something way better then you could dream of!

What is effective participation?
Effective participation is where children and young people are consulted, taken seriously and their thoughts and ideas are acted on and implemented.

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