Yannick Auckland, PWNE East of England Region Coordinator

Describe your role
For the past three years BIG Lottery funding via Participation Works has allowed me to support the multi agency Youth Involvement and Participation Network East of England (YIPPEE!). We hold regular meetings, training and events to support the positive inclusion of young people and have approximately one hundred members. I am very proud of what the network achieves which is down to the time and efforts of key members working across sectors and dedicated to sharing learning and promoting good work. I also continue to work as a consultant and trainer specialising in partnership projects, events and outcomes based planning and evaluation.

What makes a good participation worker?  
Children say someone who listens and tells them what has changed or why it hasn't changed. For me as an adult I think you need to be passionate about what young people have to offer, clear thinking and organised to prioritise and evaluate what's changed, and resilient to challenges.

What are the barriers to involving children and young people?  
Currently I would say people losing that resilience. Locally we are facing increased pressures on capacity and budgets, and whilst participation is now on a range of agendas, frontline workers are struggling to meet demands. Ironically this may apply more to statutory agencies as voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) often involve young people on a shoestring and as part and parcel of the design and delivery, however as commissioning increases so will the expectations on VCOs and extra funds to support good practice are in short supply.

What are the benefits? 
For young people I think it can be very empowering - that's what I remember one young girl saying when asked why she got involved - because she wanted to have power! It's all very well to say it can be fun, boost self esteem and broaden minds but if there's no real power sharing then little changes and outcomes can actually be negative. 

What tips do you have for effective participation of children and young people?  
Small steps: be realistic, jointly agree outcomes you can achieve, involve young people in the evaluation and make it enjoyable.

What is effective participation? 
Young people understanding the choices that are available and the limitations on choice, feeling able to express their views and be listened to, and seeing changes or benefits happening through that process, for themselves, or for others.

Don't forget to have a look at the East of England region page.

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