Susana Giner - Youth Media Agency

Describe your role

I am Director of the Youth Media Agency. Youth Media Agency is the home of youth media in the UK. A social enterprise set up to connect and support youth media with young creatives, mainstream media, youth sector and funding streams. We currently host over 50 youth radio, magazines, online broadcasting, film and training providers on our Youth Media Directory.

We are also currently leading on #PressChange4Youth a submission to the Leveson Inquiry supported by over 105 organisations calling for more balanced reporting and fair Right 2 Reply for Children and Young People in the UK.

What makes a good participation worker?

A good participation worker firstly needs to believe 100% that young people are essential to ensuring a successful campaign or project. They also need to be willing to give up control, not an easy task for us control freaks! Young people must be involved as early as possible, to feel a sense of ownership; this means as a participation worker you are the open minded facilitator rather than the expert. I think ensuring expectations are realistic is also crucial, that goes for ‘us’ workers as much as the young people. Lastly it helps if you have a sense of humour and are not scared to take a few risks.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

Time is big issue – for example wanting to include young people at crucial meetings during school/college hours is a barrier. Another challenge is geography and cost of bringing young people from across the UK. At the moment our YMA physical steering group is made up of young people based in London because of limited funds. Think we might be giving Skype a try soon.

What are the benefits?

I actually can’t imagine I could, or would want to do my job without involving young people at the heart of any project. In return the projects are relevant and much more innovative and young people get a lot from feeling listened to and feeling part of shaping our society...from the small local project to the louder National Campaigns.

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

I am going to be really practical here: 

  1. Be willing to give up control!
  2. Get on Twitter and Facebook
  3. Make it fun – remember this is someone’s spare time? What do we do in your spare time?
  4. Always pay travel and food expenses or have food available – especially long evening meetings
  5. Create leadership roles/real responsibility for everyone

What is effective participation?

From a young person’s point of view - I think you know it’s working well when the young people turn up and reply to your texts/emails. Young people tend to vote with their feet and generally if they don’t like something or feel like its not of value to them, they won’t turn up (not always the case, sometimes there are reasons of course).From a project perspective – its working when other young people are interested in what you guys are doing and the project is a success. From my perspective – I feel like I have the best job in the world! I get to be inspired almost every day, which is why I feel so disappointed when people I meet are convinced that ‘most young people are up to no good’ – this is why we all need to encourage more balanced reporting in the media and support #PressChange4Youth.

For more info about Youth Media agency or #PressChange4Youth – contact Susana@youthmediaagency.org.uk.

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