Umar Kankiya, PWNE/UKYP London Coordinator

Describe your role
I am the PWNE London Region Network Coordinator and  Regional Coordinator for London at the UK Youth Parliament. As the PWNE London Region Network Coordinator my role involves supporting members through delivering a range of network events and activities to enable them to share good practice. We will be holding a PWNE  London Region Conference on the 31 March on the theme of democracy.

My role as Regional Coordinator for London at the UK Youth Parliament, is to help facilitate the work that the elected Members of Youth Parliament and Deputy Members set themselves at the beginning of their terms of offices. I currently work with 27 of the 33 London Boroughs and an example of the work that we have done in the last 12 months was the Youth In The City event that was held on Thursday 21st February at the Ministry of Sound. This was where the MYPs and DMYP's held an anti gun and knife crime event as this was something that they had identified as being an issue that they want to tackle and the result is that over 500 young people from London came together to further discuss this issue and formulated solutions that will be presented to the Metropolitan Police and Government Ministers.

What makes a good participation worker?
What makes a good participation worker is someone who involves young people in the process, more importantly the decision-making element from beginning to end. A good participation worker doesn't try to interfere and allows the young people to learn in their own way and they are there to help guide and work in partnership in ensuring that the goals that the young people have set are met.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?
Barriers to involving children and young people, is getting them to a stage where they feel engaged and involved with the work that is happening. There will always be issues around time, education, other commitments and its all about making sure that although we do have these barriers, if we are truly engaging with young people, these are things that we as workers should always find a way around to ensure that they are fully involved.

What are the benefits?
The benefits of working with children and young people are that they are the experts. At the end of the day, we are here to help provide a service, however they should be the ones to dictate which direction we take things in. The work we do with them, impacts them directly and we should always ensure that we are getting their input and working for them and with them as opposed to telling them how things should be done.

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?
The tips I have would be very simply to talk to young people from the beginning. If you know you are going to be doing something for young people, who better to go speak to then the young people themselves, as they are the ones that will be affected. If your car broke down you would take it to a garage to get fixed, so if you are doing something for young people then the best people to speak to about it, is the young people themselves.

What is effective participation?
Effective participation is a fancy way of saying, "being involved".  Its about how to include young people and listening to what they want to bring about changes to that affects them, and getting them to change things for the better for themselves and their community.

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