New report reveals the experience of young people’s participation in projects throughout the pandemic
Monday 6 June 2022
A report launched today reveals key findings from a group of young researchers into the experience of children and young people’s participation in projects during the pandemic and their recommendations for future working.
The peer research project, funded by Young Start and delivered by four young peer researchers supported by Children in Scotland staff, took place between May 2021 and June 2022.
It engaged with projects and services across the country to examine the experience of children and young people who had been involved in participation and engagement work since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Guided by Children in Scotland’s Principles for the Meaningful Participation and Engagement of Children and Young People, the young researchers were supported to lead on all aspects of the project delivery.
The learning from it will be used to improve policy and practice in participation and engagement work with young people as we move beyond the pandemic.
The report's publication is followed by a free online webinar on Wednesday 8 June (10am-11.30am). At the event the peer researchers and project leads will share learning in an interactive discussion about what good participation looks and feels like. Professionals from across the children’s sector are invited to attend.
Click here to sign up to the event on Wednesday 8 June
The Participation through the Pandemic project was initiated to respond to a seismic shift in engagement practice during the pandemic, when all participation work moved online.
It used the experience of six ‘live’ projects from across Scotland to assess what worked well and what the challenges were to participation with children and young people in the last two years.
Children in Scotland recruited four young people – Ellie, Emma, Ishan and Katie – all of whom had worked with them on previous projects, to co-design what the project would look like and which ‘live’ projects would represent young people’s experience of engagement during the pandemic.
Ellie Roy, one of the four peer researchers in the project over the past year, said:
“I enjoyed being part of the project because I gained an insight into how other projects adapt to best suit young people’s needs.”
Chris Ross Senior Policy & Projects Officer at Children in Scotland, said:
“The Participation through the Pandemic project has given us a new insight into the experiences of children and young people across the period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Using a peer research approach has provided fresh perspectives, with young people exploring these issues on their own terms. It is vital that we learn from their experiences across this challenging period.
“This report provides evidence and also solutions for policy and practice, and we look forward to working with stakeholders to realise these”.
Key findings from the project included:
- Projects had found ways to allow children and young people to lead which gave a sense of ownership and control. This was particularly important during the pandemic.
- Relationships and connections continued to be key – the children and young people we heard from valued that people focused on their wellbeing
- Going forward projects want to use a mix of in-person and online work to maximise the benefits of both
- Strong evidence of organisations adapting the means to participation so that they could continue to engage with children and young people.
Recommendations in the report include:
- Decision-makers and funders must plan and commission projects with appropriate space for practitioners to build relationships with participants. This will hugely benefit the outcomes of the project and allow for more meaningful participation.
- Practitioners within projects need to be supported by their employer to develop meaningful relationships with children and young people
- Avoid ‘school vibes’, ie inflexibility and rigid requirements that don’t respect other commitments in young people’s lives
- Wellbeing and positive experiences for children and young people should always come first
- Evaluation should be built into all projects – project planning should have space for young people to say what they think and influence how things are delivered.
For more information about the Participation through the Pandemic project, click here to visit the web page.