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Influencing change: young people tackling inequality head on

17 December 2020

Reflecting on the success of a young people’s peer research project, Chris Ross argues that it’s vital we continue to make spaces for children to share their views directly with adults

Our Health Inequalities: Participative Research Project ran through 2019-20 and, as we come to the end of the year and the project, it’s time to reflect on its success and the lessons we have learned.

For the duration of the project we worked with Baldragon Academy and Dalmarnock Primary School to support 15 young peer researchers to design and deliver a research project exploring how the places where children and young people live contribute to their health, wellbeing and inequalities. The young peer researchers designed the methods, gathered the data and analysed what they found out. Ultimately, this is their project and we are proud to have supported them to deliver it.

They explored how safety, littering and family and friends affected their health and wellbeing in the areas they live. Their findings are detailed, nuanced and challenging. The researchers clearly articulated the need for change to support better health and wellbeing and to tackle inequalities (click here to read the report).

Our evaluation of the project and internal reflections on this have shown that the researchers enjoyed delivering the project. They have learned how to do research and it has supported them to critically reflect on the areas that they live in. It has also reaffirmed the value of using creative approaches like photography for engaging with children and young people.

‘the stuff we learned kind of opened your eyes, taking pictures and trying to think about what is on them and what is around us’

For much of 2020 we conducted a range of activity to share the findings of the project and ensure the young researchers’ recommendations are heard.

We have developed resources to share the findings with children and young people. This includes an animation (click here to watch on YouTube) and series of infographics developed by Kael Onion Oakley. Already these have been a vital resource in engaging with children and young people about the research.

A series of webinars and events have supported practitioners and professionals to engage with the findings and think about how they can use them in their work.

This activity began in February with a successful sharing event that was co-lead by some of the young peer researchers. It was great to see the young peer researchers speak about their research and facilitate discussion groups with the adults. I know from the evaluation of that event how impressed the attendees were with their work. We need to continue to make spaces for children to share their views directly with adults.

Professor Niamh Shortt has also prepared a series of short videos to introduce the concept of social determinants of health and the role of place in people’s health and wellbeing. We are also delighted that she has now contributed to the manifesto edition of Children in Scotland magazine (Click here to read).

The project has also continued to influence our wider work as an organisation. It was a key pillar in the development of our thinking for the Place, Space and Community theme within our manifesto. The young peer researchers’ findings about how areas of deprivation can contribute to poorer health and wellbeing for people living there have been vital in identifying our calls for change in the lead up to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.

As the project concludes, we will continue to share these resources and project findings. We will push for place based approaches that put children and young people at the centre of decision-making. And, most importantly, will continue to work to tackle the inequalities that to many children and young people still face.

If you want to discuss how we can work together in this area contact our Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer Chris Ross:

About the author

Chris Ross is Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer at Children in Scotland

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Health Inequalities

Find out about our Participative Research project with Children and Young People

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Health Inequalities: Peer research report

This report outlines the research undertaken by a group of young peer researchers

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Hope in hard times

We've launched our 2021-26 Manifesto backed by organisatiaons from across the children's sector

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Our projects

We undertake a wide range of work with children and young people

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