Laurie Day is a Research Director at Ecorys, with lead responsibility for children, youth and families research. His main interests and expertise lie in the areas of child and youth participation and participatory methods. Laurie has over 20 years’ experience conducting national and international studies and evaluations and was Principal Investigator on the Growing-Up Under Covid-19 project. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield.

Why is youth participation important?

Youth participation is important to ensure that young people can realise their potential as active citizens, fully exercise their rights and make a positive contribution to society. Effective participation isn’t about paternalism or second-guessing young people, it requires collaboration and partnership with adults – we’re stronger taking on the world’s problems together!

What benefits/solutions has improving youth participation brought to your organisation?

As a social policy research organisation, using participatory methods has strengthened our work in many different ways. It has helped to create policy and practice solutions that wouldn’t have been possible without young people’s active input, as well as strengthened our social impact, and made us better researchers.

What was your biggest learning on engaging with young people? Do you feel you would have known this without youth participation?

There is no substitute for lived experience! It’s too easy to get hung up on ‘training’ young people as quasi-professionals, but this is a very one-dimensional (and one-directional) approach to young people’s participation in research. The quality work comes when adults and young people have established trust and reciprocity, and co-create spaces to pool their skills and experience in a mutually reinforcing way.

Why Participation People?

Participation People work with real integrity and passion for championing young voices. They achieve what is so often a hurdle for organisations seeking to engage young people – creating platforms for ‘less heard’ voices and working with young people in all of their diversity with a focus on strengths.


Antonia’s input as an advisory group member for our Nuffield Foundation project, was greatly valued and helped us to manage some of the more challenging aspects of sustaining young people’s engagement. We also benefited from the direct participation of young people from Participation People in our teams of young researchers. 

Thank you Antonia, and Participation People!

What’s next?

Up next – further exploring young people’s participation in digital spaces, and youth co-design in the coming EdTech revolution. Watch this space…


Want to know more about how youth participation can transform your organisation? Get started by talking to one of our youth experts

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