ERIC, The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity, is the only charity dedicated to the bowel and bladder health of all children and teenagers in the UK. Their CEO, Juliette, kindly shared her thoughts on why young participation is so important and how the ERIC Young Champions project has broadened their thinking as an organisation and provided them with lots of new ideas for the future.

Why is youth participation important?

At ERIC our services for young people have until now been very limited, which is due in part to not feeling confident that we knew what young people wanted!  We wanted to get involved in youth participation so that our desire to improve our performance would have credibility amongst their communities.  To do this our goal was to enable young people to express their thoughts and feelings and develop the information and services that other young people would most likely access.

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

The results from the ERIC Young Champions project have been amazing. With Participation People they have co-created and produced a range of resources for other young people and have lots of ideas of what more could be done in future.  One solution for us is having more material on our website and social media for young people to see. Now, as we plan for the future it is always with the ERIC Young Champions in mind.  Our thinking has broadened and we now feel more confident that by engaging with the young people directly we will find a way through to reaching so many others.

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

Finding out  how committed they would be!  Not just talking but consistently being actively engaged, turning up to their sessions, sharing their own experiences to help shape information and resources for others to access.  We never thought they would be so proactive and solutions focussed – they’ve all been truly brilliant!

Why Participation People?

Because they are the experts!  We looked at their testimonials, examples of other work they have been engaged in and could see that by working with the team, their expertise would provide the opportunity to draw out the best in the young people.  Whilst we gained what we wanted as an organisation, it was great that Participation People always stayed focussed on how the engagement would also be of benefit to the young people themselves.

What’s next?

We are committed as an organisation to grow our engagement with young people.  We are currently seeking funding to expand our young peoples network and take forward some of the longer term suggestions from the ERIC Young Champions.  We also want to explore with them how they might want to engage with ERIC’s governance structure and if they do, how we can best support them in that role. 


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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