skip to main content

Impact report reveals the benefits of peer research in participation projects

Children in Scotland has published an impact report on evaluation from the Participation through the Pandemic project.

The report reveals the benefits of taking a peer research approach, where a group of people with lived experience of an issue come together to research it.

Funded by the Young Start programme (click here for more), the Participation through the Pandemic project explored how coronavirus changed the ways in which children and young people got involved in projects or accessed services.

Within it, a group of four young researchers aged 14-18 years worked together to examine how engaging online rather than face-to-face  changed the way children and young people share their views.

By taking a peer research approach, the young people were able to learn by doing, learn from each other and gain skills and confidence in their own abilities.

On the process, one of the participants said:

“The analysis of the projects, especially the tasks following the discussions with the projects, gave me an insight into the depth of analysis and evaluation needed for research. This has allowed me to improve my research skills as I know what is required to gather excellent research.”

To help bring the report and its findings to life, the group worked with artist Victoria Geary to produce a short animation that explores what peer research is and the benefits it can bring to research and evaluation projects led by young people.

Children in Scotland is hosting a free webinar event on Thursday 23 February (10am-12pm) to share learning from the project, this report and the experience of taking a peer research approach.
Click here to find out more and register to attend

On the impact report, Chris Ross, Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer said:

“'Our evaluation of the Participation through the Pandemic project has shown the value of peer research as an approach. It gives children and young people a chance to take the lead and drive change. We found that building relationships and learning together were key in supporting our peer researchers, so was having fun!

Our upcoming webinar on the findings of the report will be a great opportunity to share good practice and learn new approaches. Please get signed up if you want to find out more."

Click here to read the impact report

Click here to find out more about the Participation through the Pandemic project

The Peer Research Impact Report

Explore the findings from our evaluation of the peer research approach

Click here to read the report

Participation through the Pandemic

Read the final report from this project published in June 2022

Click to find out more

Participation with young people

Find out more about our how we embed children and young people’s inclusion across all our work

Click here for more

“We must not lose sight of our collective goal”

Marking her first anniversary as our Chief Executive, in the first of a two-part blog Jude Turbyne takes stock of how poverty is impacting on families now – and why working in the children’s sector gives her hope 

I have now been with Children in Scotland for just over a year. It has been a fulfilling time, during which my admiration for my colleagues within the organisation and across the children’s sector has been strengthened. So, I feel I should be celebrating but, rather, I find myself a bit gloomy.

I came into post during the pandemic. At the start of 2022, it felt as if we might be on a more positive journey away from Covid, and that we could start to build actively on the learning from the previous two years. There was a sense of hope that we could step out of crisis mode and settle into a new positive rhythm. However, we have moved from that phase into one where the external environment is increasingly hostile.

Crisis impacts

There have been a lot of insightful pieces written over the past few months highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on families that are already vulnerable and illustrating how many other children, young people and families are sliding inexorably towards poverty.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland, for instance, estimates that one in 10 people in Scotland currently have nothing left after covering the essentials. A Save the Children briefing clearly illustrates the way in which stagnating incomes coupled with the massive hike in costs is likely to have a serious impact on families.

The Living Without a Lifeline report just published by One Parent Families Scotland shows the impact the crisis was already having on single parent families and the cloud of deep anxiety that many families are currently living under. The Scottish Government estimates that one million households across Scotland will be living in fuel poverty.

An unacceptable choice facing families

Action is needed. We had awaited with interest the Westminster emergency fiscal event last week. However, as outlined in the joint statement by the Children’s Commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this did not result in the targeted action required to support the children, young people and their families who are facing this winter with inadequate resources and increasing anxieties.

Rather it focused its policies on those who already have more than enough, believing that somehow their wealth would magically trickle down to families and young people living in vulnerable situations. It is simply not acceptable that there will be families this winter that are having to make a choice between food and heat.

We will push for better responses to the immediate crisis, but we must never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is creating a more resilient Scotland, where our children, young people and families are lifted out of poverty and are not in danger of slipping back.

Welcoming the Child Payment increase

That is why the announcement of the raising of the Child Payment to £25 in November is particularly welcome: the evidence already shows that this payment has the potential to impact on child poverty rates. We need more measures like this that will support systemic change.

Last week we held a timely Children Sector Strategic and Policy Forum where leaders across the sector took stock of the situation. It is important that we invest in the right things. We know that money is tight in all sectors and so we need to prioritise those actions that will have the biggest, sustainable impact.

We are currently processing all the different announcements that have come out from Government in Scotland and Westminster, digging into the complexities of the situation now, and seeking to develop clear policy approaches that can have a real and sustainable impact for Scotland’s families. We will continue to reflect and write about our approach as we develop these collective responses.

Pushing for change

I started saying that I felt gloomy, and sometimes it is hard not to. But the children’s sector in Scotland is full of wonderful organisations and individuals that are committed to making Scotland a better place for our children and young people.

Putting our collective effort into pushing for and making the necessary changes can make a difference. And, that does, indeed, give me hope.


About the author

Our CEO Jude Turbyne has worked for a number of charities and in the development sector

Click here for more

2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto includes calls on challenging and reducing child poverty, supported by expert partner organisations

Click here for more

Strategic Forum

The Forum takes an evidence-based approach to improving children’s lives at national level

Click here for more

Our values

Our organisational values guide our work and activities

Click here for more


Join us: access a range of benefits and add your voice to our work

Click here for more
Greyscale headshot of a woman with long hair, looking at the camera. She is wearing a fluffy jumper

Q&A with Lorna MacPhail: Bringing mindfulness to education

Posted 24 August, 2022 by Nina Joynson

Ahead of her webinar, 'Big emotions in the classroom', Lorna MacPhail talks to us about how to better support wellbeing in schools in order to create supportive spaces for both children and teachers.

What do we mean when we talk about ‘big emotions’ in a classroom setting?

It’s important to mention here that all emotions are welcome. They are part of our human experience and provide insight into what is going on for the individual. Everyone responds differently to situations – some individuals could be loud and expressive, while others may be quieter and more withdrawn. It is important for anyone working with children to recognise emotions at both ends of the scale.

The big emotions for me are the ones that sit at either end of the scale. The aim is to support the child to notice their experience and have the strategies to bring themselves back into homeostasis or equilibrium.

Your work often focuses on mindfulness and the emotional and social needs of children. Do you think we’re lacking empathy towards these needs in schools?

I wouldn’t say those who work with children lack in empathy, but we do need to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of trauma and stress on the body, mind and heart.

We also need to equip teachers with confidence to deliver effective strategies to help children find the middle ground. When children are calm and at ease, they focus more easily and can take on and process information. It is extremely important that classroom practitioners are well-trained in good mindfulness practices to implement these strategies effectively.

I do think there can be a lack of empathy between adults. There is so much pressure on everyone at every level of the education system and people feel overwhelmed and exhausted. For me it is about finding ways to be more considerate in our communication and more compassionate towards ourselves.

The pandemic has meant children and teachers have had to radically shift their understanding of the classroom, and in many cases, their approach to teaching a class full of children again. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges?

What I notice the most is children’s ability to focus has worsened during the pandemic. We know one of the factors which impact the ability to focus is stress and children will have absorbed the stress of their family and teachers, perhaps watched the news and of course been aware of everything that has been going on around them for the last few years.

On top of this, the range of needs in a classroom seems to be getting bigger with more children requiring individualised educational programmes. The biggest challenge for teachers is meeting the needs of all children in their class, which then adds to the level of stress they’re already experiencing.

Teachers and children need strategies to support them in managing stress and connecting to calm, now more than ever. There is already great work going on in Scottish schools, however integrating effective strategies of mindfulness and compassion can offer both children and those who work with them the tools to navigate the challenges of modern life more effectively.

Big emotions in the classroom takes place in September. Who is the workshop aimed at? What would you like them to take away from the session?

This workshop is aimed at headteachers, educational leaders, heads of department, primary and secondary teachers and anyone who is connected to educating children.

I will aim to help school leaders and teachers think about how they can integrate an effective whole school mindfulness-based approach to wellbeing. I will address common misconceptions of what mindfulness is and demonstrate simple ways teachers can integrate these strategies in their classroom to help children with focus and concentration. We will also explore how compassionate practices can develop resilience, self-belief and pave the way for communication that empowers all.

Delegates will leave with strategies that they can implement straight away and build confidence in delivering these strategies effectively.

Lorna MacPhail is a wellbeing consultant and embodiment coach. Click here to visit her website

She will be leading the online session 'Big emotions in the classroom: tools to navigate' on Wednesday 14 September. Click here to find out more and book

Challenges of mental health and lockdown explored in new Perth Living Museums exhibition

6 September 2021

A new exhibition from young people involved in our Living Museums participation project has opened at Perth Museum.

Members of the Perth project group marked the launch of Our Lockdown Journey: Facing the Unknown through Creativity last Wednesday evening (1 September).

As part of Living Museums, which examines how to make museums and heritage sites more relevant and accessible to young people, the group chose to focus on the theme of young people's mental health during lockdown.

The exhibition has been created in the style of a young person’s bedroom, displaying items that supported the mental health of group members during the pandemic and reflecting a space where they’d spent the vast majority of their time over the past year.

A common space

The bedroom was described by one of the young people involved as “our hub”, and they stressed that “it was really good to portray what that environment was like.”

Members of the group had identified that museums could be overwhelming spaces, and accessibility was a key consideration throughout the project and the launch event.

In response to this, a sensory space in the museum, co-produced by the young people and Perth Museums, is in the process of being created.

Project group member Maden made a speech at the start of the event, emphasising how the group have become close friends and that being involved in the project has had a big impact on them as they realized that people have experienced common challenges.

Group member Billy, who was attracted to the project because he wanted young people to get more involved in museums said: “Initially what got me involved was pizza, but over time I got interested.”

Discussing the project, group members Becky and Vicky said they felt like young people weren’t the target audience for museums. Stigma should be removed and mental health discussed more, they said: “Museums have a power with engaging people, not only with the past but also with current events.”

Accessibility vs aesthetics

Jordan Irvine, Senior Officer, Communities and Learning, at Culture Perth & Kinross was open about the fact that museums struggle to engage with young people aged 14 – 26, and that they should be more proactive in working with them to shape exhibits.

He said he felt that accessibility is often overlooked for aesthetics, but museums want and need to overcome this. “If museums aren’t accessible for every body, what is the point in them?” he asked.

Reflecting on the launch, other museum staff were impressed by how the method of engaging young people had been used but recognized that this could take time.

Comments from staff about the exhibition included, “[it was] very creative and very real", and that it was "cool". One staff member said that they'd felt “challenged” by it because it raised issues about the accessibility of their heritage services: “why has no body thought about this before?”

Our Lockdown Journey: Facing the Unknown through Creativity is on display at Perth Museum and Art Gallery until 31st October 2021. Admission is free.  

Click here to find out more about Perth Museum

About Living Museums

The project looks at how the museum sector can appeal to young people aged 14 - 21

Click here for more

Our approach to participation

An advisory group of children and young people help shape our aims and work

Click here for more

Participation through the pandemic

This research project aims to gain greater understanding of engagement with children over the past 18 months

Click here for more

Our project work

We run a wide range of projects aimed at achieving our vision for children

Click here for more

Summer days, but changed services for families

Sarah De Rees from the Orkney Islands’ Home-Start team updates on the impact of Phase 3 and the continuing resilience of families in the face of the pandemic

The hot, bright sun is shining down on the beach; its light painting the ocean with streaks of blue and green and the glistening of what looks like millions of diamonds. The car thermometer reads 19 degrees Celsius but without the usual breeze it feels like 22.

There is a sandcastle which looks like a well-constructed fort, little footprints in the golden sand and children splashing in the water and carefully admiring a lion’s mane jellyfish while avoiding getting stung.

Days like this are some of the best Orkney summer days. It feels wonderful and quite normal, until you recognise a friend, walk over and suddenly remember social distancing… Instead of the hug, we do an awkward little upper body dance, as if our brains know but our bodies have not quite grown accustomed to this untactile way of greeting yet.

Since writing my first blog piece, Scotland has experienced the gradual changes of our route out of lockdown. We are in Phase 3 now, which means we can meet a limited number of friends in groups while maintaining a two-meter social distance, travel unlimited for any purpose and even go on holiday. Young children can play with their friends without inhibitions and enjoy sleepovers again too, making things feel that little bit more normal again.

The bonus of it being the summer holidays has certainly been a relief to school-age children and their parents. Being able to go into a friend’s house is a huge thing for a child and has allowed those children who have felt some anxiety about the constantly changing rules to feel more relaxed.

For some of our Home-Start families, things have been more difficult despite the relaxation on lockdown restrictions and this phase has been the toughest yet. Families join us for several reasons but essentially because our volunteers’ practical help with the children or at home is a welcome support, or our Group Support sessions provide a safe place to socialise in a small group.

Due to the relaxed social distancing guidelines, some parents have begun to feel more isolated and found life more difficult because as an organisation we are not able to provide the practical face – to – face support yet. As a service we follow the Scottish government and the relevant health and social care guidelines, so we tread with caution; for now we continue to provide telephone support or video calls, which is fine but does not always meet families’ needs.

With a number of grants available we have been able to support families financially when needed and were delighted when we were chosen as the charity of choice by one of the younger members of the community: seven-year-old dog loving Rianne wrote a fantastic book called ‘Mayhem at Mike’s’ to raise funds for Home-Start Orkney. She is a talented young author with a big heart and raised a whopping £800!

Currently we are looking at how and when to resume face-to-face support and we continue to work towards a way of providing our services which meet the needs of all our families. With the various complexities of life in a pandemic, they have shown a resilience and positivity which can only be admired.

They are all wonderful and we very much look forward to seeing our lovely Home-Start families again.


About the author

Sarah De Rees works for Home-Start Orkney

Click to find out more

Online learning

We're offering a series of webinars to cover all your CPD needs this autumn

Browse webinars

Be part of our network

There are so many reasons to get involved

Click to find out more

Join us

Join us in membership and receive a wide range of benefits

Click to find out more

Our project work

We work with young people and families, with a strong focus on participation

Click to find out more