Ruth Rickman Williams, Regional Youth Work Unit West Midlands

Describe your role
I am the Regional  Youth Work Adviser with the regional  youth work unit West Midlands. My role involves working with local authority youth services and voluntary and community sector organizations to support the development and delivery of high quality youth work across the region.

What makes a good participation worker?
Somebody who is committed to the needs of young people and able to listen to what children and young people have to say and someone  who is able to actively support young people in pursuit of their needs.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
Adults, oorganisational structures and people not wanting to give up power to young people. People not being prepared to listen or take the views of young people seriously.

What are the benefits?
Services that directly meet the expressed needs of children and young people and that are directly influenced by the voices of children and young people. We then get services that are actively sought by children and young people. Also we then become much more creative in our response to service delivery. There are benefits for children and young people themselves in terms of being able to be involved as they get to learn about organisation's decision-making structures so there is learning for them as well as the organisation.

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

  • Gain support from the top down so that all levels of the organisation are committed and signed up to young people’s involvement.
  • Set aside budgets to support the active participation of children and young people.
  • Set aside time. 

What is effective participation?
Where children and young people are effectively power sharing alongside adults, influencing and shaping decisions that are made. When you can see evidence of real impact and change.

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