Middlesbrough Council commissioned the services of Participation People to improve children’s and young people’s participation and embed the voices of young people in decisions that affect them.
When I was first told about the partnership, I was excited, albeit a little bit nervous of having a new team to work with. One thing I definitely knew is that something needed to change regarding participation in Middlesbrough.
I went into the process with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect, but I couldn’t have predicted what was to come. After my first Team PP check in, I felt immediately welcomed and also felt the warmth and passion that the team had for what they do! After this, training was provided to educate me on models of participation, with an emphasis on Laura Lundy’s model. This was eye opening, as the model chunked up different parts of participation, and using PP’s Lundy checklist helped me really realise what was going well, and what needed to be improved.
I had support to improve those aspects, and solid advice from team members on how I could improve. As most of the team ran their own groups with young people, everyone had expertise, and all the issues I had, had been had by other members of the team, so we worked collaboratively to solve these (particularly in our regular Quality Assurance meets!).
I have ran numerous events that I never thought I’d be able to do. This included the Big Takeover and Big Bosses on the Spot, two huge events that had great impact on Middlesbrough Council. In fact, as a result of Big Takeover, Middlesbrough appointed a new Executive Member for Children and Young People’s Participation – which was a huge achievement. This was due to the support and confidence in my abilities that Participation People showed me.
On a personal level, my confidence has really grown, and I feel I’m more of a force to be reckoned with! I have developed lovely relationships with my team members and managed to do this virtually. I attended away days virtually as well, and even though I wasn’t physically in the room, I felt included and valued as a team member.
I believe co location works really well, especially as the co located team member will already have lots of contacts within the organisation. I know in my role in Middlesbrough Council I had formed relationships with people all around the council, and made contacts that were useful in delivering participation, for example, Town Hall staff, our Communications Team and Education/Social Care.
I’ll always be grateful to Participation People for the skills they have taught me, and the love and support they’ve shown me. The don’t only bring the fun, but bring the love, support, and kindness to nurture staff and young people alike!
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