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Involve children and young people in your community

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01. Background

This factsheet provides you with the essential information to enable you to involve and work with children and young people in your local community.

The Government wants young people to play a more active role in ensuring services are better. Their aim is for every child and young person, whatever their background, to have the support they need to:

  • Be healthy;
  • Stay safe;
  • Enjoy and achieve;
  • Make a positive contribution; and
  • Achieve economic well-being.

For voluntary groups and organisations with limited experience of working with children and young people, it can be a daunting task trying to involve them in new projects. However, when given the chance, children and young people are among the most committed to the well being of their community. After all, this is where they live and wish to thrive. To help children and young people play a vital role in your community, there are expert organisations and a number of resources here in the North East to draw support from.

The North East includes some of the most deprived areas of the country. Growing up here can be a mixed experience. For the North East to create more sustainable communities, it is essential for children and young people, to play a full part in their local community giving them a greater say about the issues which affect them as individuals and collectively.

02. Suggested Activities

Here are some simple steps you can take that can help you to work with, and involve, children and young people in your community.  

Before you start

Step 1. Choose your activities

There are many activities that can involve children and young people in their local community. If you are a community group seeking to create such a project, there are hundreds if not thousands to choose from. These can be from litter picks to the creation of wildlife or community parks and gardens. Popular activities also include arts and heritage projects. The list is endless.

There are organisations that specialise in working with children and young people who may be able to highlight great activities and ways for your group to work with, and involve, children and young people. Please see the expert organisations(s) noted at the end of this factsheet.

You may also choose to set up a meeting with an existing group of young people, at a local school or youth group for example, to ask them if there are any key issues that they would like to work on in the community.

Whatever you decide to carry out, make sure it is needed and wanted by the rest of the community (including the children and young people).

Step 2. Do your homework

Before working with children or young people there are a few policies and procedures that you must be aware of and adopt.

  1. Individuals in contact with young people need to have a Criminal Research Bureau (CRB) check;
  2. Organisations working with children and young people need to adhere to child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures;
  3. Activities involving children and young people need to be risk assessed under arrangements for health and safety; and
  4. For children and young people to take part in activities the permission of parents or carers is an essential requirement. This includes taking of photographs for use in publications.

For further help on these issues please contact an expert organisation(s) as listed at the end of this factsheet.

Step 3. Effective preparation

There is a need for adequate resources when planning a project (small or large) that will work with children and young people. Depending on the size of your project, special resources may be needed such as secretarial support and hospitality. With regard to venues give children and young people a choice; your premises may not be their preference.

It is important to consider how best to work with children and young people. Is your organisation already equipped to do this or is it necessary to work with a youth organisation? Again, contact an expert organisation for assistance.

Step 4. Work with children and young people to plan your project fully

One way to plan your group’s project fully, whilst directly involving and working with children and young people, is to run an initial workshop. At this workshop, map or identify what you and the children and young people want to carry out and achieve. An expert organisation(s) can assist you to carry out such work.

Step 5. Learn form others and adopt longer term ways to ensure you work with children and young people 

Taking advice from others is an important step before and during any work you carry out with children and young people. For larger organisations why not, on top of your planned activities, also try to use the National Youth Agency’s Participation Works website at www.participationworks.org.uk and the Hear by Right framework, available at http://hbr.nya.org.uk/files/1-Hear%20By%20Right%202008.pdf  help you build participation not only into projects, but into your organisation as a whole. Both resources ensure that young people’s involvement is built in and not just bolted on to work.

Smaller groups could also consider a similar thing and could adopt a working with children and young people policy or action plan.

Step 6. Make sure the key players are involved

Ensure support early on from staff, children and young people and other relevant organisations in your area.

Once you are happy that you have considered and undertaken the necessary steps above, you are ready to undertake your community project. Remember that you should, wherever possible, build such involvement with children and young people into your community group or organisation’s everyday activities. A checklist, at the end of this factsheet, will help you to ensure you work well with children and young people.

03. Funding Opportunities

Here are some potential funders who may be able to help you fund your projects and activities.

Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out:Empowering Young People offers grants between £100,000 – £500,000 for projects running between three and five years. Awards for All offers grants between £300 – £10,000. www.biglotteryfund.org.uk or T: 0845 102030.

Youth Bank are run by young people for young people, providing small grants to fund young people’s good ideas that benefit their local community. www.youthbank.org.uk or T: 0116 242 7446.

Heritage Lottery Fund runs Young Roots, a grant programme designed to engage young people aged 13-25 with their heritage offering grants between £3,000 and £25,000.www.hlf.org.uk

Regional Youth Work Unit issues a weekly newsletter announcing up to date funding opportunities. Sign up at www.rywu.org.uk.

The ‘Fundraising’ factsheet will help you write your funding bids. The Directory contains up to date information on the current funding opportunities.

04. Checklist

To help you with your project, ensure that the following steps are always undertaken:

Show children and young people respect;

2 Listen carefully to what they have to say;

3 Treat them honestly, let them know what you are able to do and what you cannot,

4 Seek advice and guidance from experts before embarking on a project that involves working with children and young people;

5 Where appropriate, hold regular meetings at locations of the children and young people’s choice and at times convenient to them;

6 In meetings and literature, avoid unnecessary jargon, or offer explanation and clarification, tailor language and keep everyone in the picture;

7 Involve children and young people in making decisions and give them responsibility;

8 Demonstrate commitment with adult champions/workers and sufficient resources;

9 Accept sometimes some activities do not work well or go smoothly – learn form the experience; and

10 Allow time for fun and enjoyment, celebrate success, and recognise what is achieved.

05. About the Contributor

The information contained in this factsheet has been written by Connexions Tyne and Wear, an organisation that exists to support children and young people in the Tyne and Wear area of the North East.

This factsheet is part of the Brighter Futures Together toolkit and provides a general overview of the different ways to get involved in your community. It is not a comprehensive guide or legal advice document. Please seek further advice and appropriate consent before commencing any projects.

The material in the factsheet is not copyrighted however we ask that you acknowledge the Brighter Futures Together toolkit when you use them. www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk