Victoria Clarke, Kent Parent Partnership Service

Describe your role

My role is to gain the views of disabled children and children with special educational needs and ensure that these influence policy and practice in Kent. I see my role as facilitating communication between children and young people and decision-makers.

What makes a good participation worker?

For me being a flexible communicator is the key to being a good participation worker. Because of the range of needs of the children and young people I work with I need to be able to use a variety of communication methods including signing and using symbols.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?

I think that the main barrier to involving children and young people is attitude. Some people assume that disabled children and young people are unable to tell you their views. This is obviously not the case - sometimes you just need to think outside the box and be creative!

What are the benefits?

The benefits of participation are huge. For children and young people participation helps them to feel valued and listened to and increases their confidence and self-esteem. For services it means that they are able to provide exactly what children and young people need which leads to greater uptake of the service and increased cost-effectiveness. Organisations have a duty to ensure that children and young people have opportunities to express their views about matters that affect them (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).

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

Be creative and make it fun! Also make sure that children and young people receive feedback so that they know that they have been listened to and that something has changed as a result of their participation.

What is effective participation?

To me, effective participation is about seeking children’s views and acting on them!

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