The challenge

The leadership at Kooth, an online mental wellbeing community aimed at 11-25 year-olds, recognised the importance of integrating youth voices and perspectives right into the heart of their organisational decision-making processes, to be able to truly provide a service that addressed the needs and preferences of their young user base. 

However, they lacked the tools and ability to engage with young people effectively, so, reached out to Participation People to build a strategy that could make youth participation principles integral to the organisation’s approach.

Our solution

We developed a comprehensive plan to help Kooth on the journey towards a more active participatory approach with real longevity, including the following key steps. 

   1. One-to-one coaching and mentoring 

PP CEO Antonia Dixey designed and facilitated tailored one-on-one coaching sessions for the clinical lead at Kooth, helping them develop a deeper understanding of youth participation principles and techniques. As a result, in turn, they were able to guide the senior executive team, using these skills to develop a new business plan and model for Kooth. 

   2. Supporting team leaders 

Participation People engaged with operational leaders across various departments within Kooth. Through workshops and discussions, Antonia empowered these leaders to source and integrate youth insight into their respective areas of responsibility. This involved identifying opportunities for engagement, incorporating young people’s perspectives into decision-making, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration. 

   3. Training People Voice Champions

To make sure youth voice remained firmly on the agenda, Participation People trained a select group of Kooth team members to become People Voice Champions. This group was tasked to continue to promote the importance of people participation within their teams, fostering dialogue, and capturing valuable insights from young users as the organisation progresses.

   4. Consulting on Business Development Priorities

Key to our approach was providing consultancy to Kooth to help them identify and work towards business priorities, with youth engagement in mind. By making youth participation principles a core pillar of Kooth’s business plan, the organisation ensured that the needs and preferences of young people were at the forefront of Kooth’s ongoing development, and  Antonia worked closely with Kooth’s leadership to define key areas of focus on this with strategic initiatives to tackle them.


Our support and guidance resulted in significant positive outcomes for Kooth, with highlights including:

  • Mental health services were better aligned with the needs and preferences of young users, thanks to a more informed decision-making process from senior business leaders
  • Service delivery became more inclusive and more effective, driven by a team that was better attuned to the voices and experiences of young people
  • By fostering a culture of participation and collaboration, and improving diversity and inclusion, Kooth experienced a positive shift in its own organisational culture. This ripple effect helped to improve team dynamics, increase motivation and encourage a more holistic approach to mental wellbeing
  • The strategic alignment of putting youth participation and engagement at the heart of its business plan gave Kooth the ability to drive meaningful impact and develop services that truly met the needs of its target audience

 In conclusion

We developed a multi-faceted delivery plan for Kooth and through our collaborative work, the team there were able to truly embed youth participation principles throughout every aspect of their organisation, plus, the halo effect on the working culture at Kooth was the cherry on the cake. 

We have every confidence that with the groundwork now in place, Kooth will be able to help even more young people, in a far deeper way, on their mental health journey.


“Kooth has valued and benefited significantly from its relationship with Participation People. Over the last few years, this collaboration has significantly supported the organisation to build on its commitment to put service users at the heart of all we do. 

The commitment and expertise of Antonia and her team has been invaluable. The organisation has developed a more clear approach to user engagement and the importance of user voice, especially for children and young people. More people in the organisation are engaged in meaningful participation projects across the organisation – and this is a testament to the experience and commitment Participation People has shown over the years.

They also approach their mission and work with creativity and fun which has been infectious.”

  • Brian Rock; Clinical Director, Youth Participation Lead