Engagement and participation

Working group: David Blunkett MP; Alistair Jones, CEO, Frontier Youth Trust;  Rhasan Brunner, ENVOY;  Jason Stacey, Head of Policy and Research, YMCA England; Emma Thomas, CEO, Youthnet; Pauline Taylor, Director of Youth Work, UK Youth; Godfrey Owen, CEO, Brathay Trust; Vicky Caswell, ENVOY;  Gary Buxton, Chief Executive, Young Advisors; Elisa Leclerc, Communications and Involvement Manager, Paul Hamlyn Foundation/Mental Health Foundation.

Key questions:
  • How can declining public trust in institutions be counteracted to engage young people as active citizens? 
  • What models of collaboration between local businesses and communities could mitigate the frustration among the young? 
  • How can politicians reach out to young people? 
  • What are the best ways of promoting youth leadership and political engagement? In the correlation between economic/moral poverty and civil unrest, what is the cause and where are the symptoms?

Please share information and discuss future outputs by submitting a new post below.


Commission on Youth Interview Series

posted Jan 31, 2013, 9:14 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 6:53 AM ]

As part of the ResPublica/NCVYS joint Commission on Youth project we are proud to release the following video interviews along the theme of Engagement & Participation:

Interviews: 

    David Blunkett MP with Linda Epstein (17) 
  • David Blunkett talks about engagement, citizenship programs how politicians and connect with young people. 
    Baroness Jones with Adam Bradford (20) 
  • Baroness Jones discusses problems with the education system and the importance and potential of volunteering.

More video interviews are available within the themes of Family structure and community support and Engagement and participation, including Shaun Bailey, Kate Green MP and Tim Loughton MP.

All the videos in the series can be found on the ResPublica website.

Youth4U – Young Inspectors

posted Oct 19, 2012, 3:56 AM by Unknown user

The purpose of the programme was to:

· Enable young people to become more socially responsible, by supporting them in coming together to improve their communities;

· Increase the numbers and quality of opportunities for marginalised young people and give them the opportunity to improve services and enable change in their communities;

· Help marginalised young people to engage their peers in influencing local policies and services across a wide range of issues including locality, health, neighbourhood renewal, transport and community service in the benefit of their neighbourhoods; and

· Enable young people to have much greater impact on local services by feeding back both their and the views of their peers.

The programme supported adult support workers in local organisations to recruit, train and support young people to investigate and assess how local services are doing and help them to improve things where they could be better. The young people were given the opportunity to achieve an accreditation through the programme. To be eligible young people had to be 13-19 years old or up to 25 if they are disabled and / or have learning difficulties.


Evidence from the evaluation of the programme:

Impact on young people

Nearly six out of ten young inspector (YIs) achieved the Young Inspectors Award, and one in seven gained an ASDAN Award of Personal Effectiveness (AoPE) at level one. Whether YIs received accreditation depended in part upon the level of support provided by the LSW: in some areas, no YIs received awards; in others, all of them did.


Surveys indicated that the Youth4U – Young Inspectors had helped some YIs make decisions about their futures. This was supported by feedback from LSWs who described instances where YIs had, through their involvement with the programme, made decisions to re-engage with education. There was a consistent message from YIs that the Youth4U – Young Inspectors programme had helped them to develop skills in many areas including communicating and presenting information, working in a team, setting and achieving goals; and to develop general skills that are useful for employment. Evidence also suggested that being a YI led to greater use of local services. All survey respondents felt that their Youth4U – Young Inspectors experience would help them in securing employment.


Overall, YIs were highly satisfied with the programme. All respondents to the follow-up survey said they would recommend the Youth4U – Young Inspectors programme to their friends.


Impact on services

Recommendations made to services by YIs most commonly referred to improving the appearance of the premises from which they were delivered,

the external publicity and marketing of the service, and the information available to service users.


Follow-up inspections (carried out for a quarter of all initial inspections) found that three-quarters of the services they revisited had improved to some degree. Just over half of the recommendations made in the initial inspection reports were found to have been fully or partly implemented.


Overall, a large majority of service providers who responded to the survey suggested that being inspected would have a positive impact on the way the service was delivered in the future.


Wider impacts

Just over half of the service providers considered that the inspection process would likely have a positive impact on the wider local authority as well as on inspected services and their users. According to the local support workers (LSWs), the main impact of the programme on the local authorities was to increase the profile of young people’s participation. It was felt that the programme had encouraged service providers and senior managers to think about how they could involve children and young people in planning or designing services in the future. It had also provided local authorities with a vehicle through which to deliver their existing requirements to consult with young people.

The full evaluation of the report can be downloaded here: http://www.participationworks.org.uk/files/webfm/files/rooms/young-inspectors/Youth4U%20-%20Young%20Inspectors%20FINAL.pdf

The Participation Works Partnership has now developed the ‘Young Inspectors Package’, which offers tailored suites of resources and training along with dedicated consultancy time in order for organisations to develop programmes that are suited to their needs. Further information here:http://www.participationworks.org.uk/topics/young-inspectors



Zoë Renton
Head of Policy
National Children's Bureau

The riots one year on: Will it happen again? A view from the British Youth Council

posted Oct 16, 2012, 3:04 AM by Unknown user

In the aftermath of the August 2011 riots, BYC carried out research with over 900 young people and leaders across the UK examining the underlying factors that contributed to young people's decisions to join in the disturbances. The report ( Our Streets) describes a range of different reasons for involvement, and provides an opportunity for the majority of young people to comment on what needs to change.

Young people wanted to challenge the negative stereotype as not typical, but at the same time wanted to highlight their concerns about underlying youth unemployment and cuts to services. However all young people need to feel some stake in their communities if they are not to harm them, and the report called for greater and more visible investment in youth and communities.

The dominating themes of our research into why a minority of young people took part were 'lack of respect' and 'opportunism'. But also rating highly was an anxiety around lack of jobs and opportunities. At the time, BYC Chair Liam Preston (26) called on local communities to invite and involve young leaders in their debates to ensure all these issues are addressed together, as one community. Liam, now approaching the end of his term of office, reflects on what's different one year on:

"A year on and with hindsight, it's likely that the police will now be better prepared tactically, that rioters will be more aware of - and many deterred by - the potential consequences and that the media might think again about the consequences of their 24 hour reporting. Some local authorities have thought twice about the role youth services play in preventing or mitigating the worst behaviour, and responded to our calls to 'choose youth' when protecting services from cuts. BYC called for greater youth participation in communities - emphasising the importance of young leadership, role models and spokespeople to the media. We've seen most local authorities maintain their youth councils, despite cuts to to youth services, and there has been some media willingness to talk to young people not just about them - BBC Three's Free Speech being a good example. But it's still not enough. We also recommended investment in youth in general, and while the 'trigger and knock on effect' of last year's disturbances might not repeat in the same way, there is a growing underling pressure on young people. A general weight of issues is pressing down on our young people and contributes to an overall sense of worthlessness that can lead to them giving up hope. In the last year, youth unemployment has continued to rise, the costs of education have increased, careers services have been reformed and there has been continued reduction of youth services. This is just not good enough, and our young people deserve better opportunities".

BYC is calling for investment in youth - jobs and services - including the retention of the skilled and experienced volunteers and professionals who engage and support young people in their communities. Their work mitigates against the worst behaviour and offers hope and alternatives.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

“A very useful and comprehensive analysis from the perspective of young people – I recommend it.”
Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Labour MP for Tottenham


James Cathcart
British Youth Council
(Including UK Youth Parliament and Young Mayor Network)

Young Advisors: Riot Responses

posted Sep 28, 2012, 4:59 AM by Unknown user

In August 2011 many communities throughout England were affected by rioting. Many of these communities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester, house Young Advisor projects; projects that work hard to promote community cohesion, participation and the amplification of young people's voices. Other Young Advisor projects, such as our team in Sheffield, were instrumental in helping to cool down the violence and safeguard their city.

Since these outbreaks of violence in our cities and neighbourhoods YAs from all around the country, both in affected and unaffected communities, have been responding to the events of Summer 2011 and having their say on 'why' and 'how'; 'why' the rioting began in the first place and 'how' do we move forward and avoid such disturbances in the future?

It is important to note that only 20% of people arrested for rioting were 'young people', this was not a mobilisation of the 'youth of today', although, along with every other demographic, some young people were involved in the disturbances.

YAs have met with the community, with the police, with their local councillors, with specialist government panels, even with Ministers to discuss the issues and advocate for their communities and generation. Below are a selection of responses from our movement of young people detailing some of their experiences as they explore the 'why' and the 'how'.

Further information are available here.

Technology and the media as an institution

posted Aug 3, 2012, 4:45 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Aug 3, 2012, 4:46 AM ]

A key topic of discussion at the Commission steering group related to technology and the media as an institution.


  • We are living through a decade of an unprecedented popularity of digital technology and media culture. What impact does this cultural change have on the way we think and behave? More importantly, how did this ‘digitalisation’ influence the attitudes and behaviours of the rioters?

  • The existing research touches upon the role of technology in relation to peer-to-peer mechanisms and the ease of mobilisation in the lead up to the riots. However, there are questions that remain to be asked about the effects of the media coverage of the actual events – did the use of the modern broadcasting technology turned these events into a spectacle?

  • Did the media universalised the lack of taboo and gave the riots 'cultural permission'?

  • To what extent did the aestheticisation of violence and the media frenzy anaesthetise people’s moral barometer and ‘normalise’ criminality?

  • 2011 was the ‘Year of the Protestor’ – can we draw comparisons and contrasts between different riots worldwide and diachronically?


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