The Prince’s Trust is one of the UK’s leading youth charities, helping young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education, and training. Becky is the Senior Head of Service Delivery for the Health & Social Care contract at the charity – a role which includes working with Participation People on the creation and ongoing work of the Young Person committee and champions team. She took five minutes to answer some questions for us on the importance of youth participation and how engaging with young people has inspired a new thinking across their organisation.
Why is youth participation important?
As the Prince’s Trust is an organisation that exists to help young people reach their potential, be it through education, finding them the right job, or helping them unleash their entrepreneurial flair, understanding what resonates and is relevant to young people today is of paramount importance to us. We need young people to feed into our thinking across all aspects of our work as well as challenge our thinking to make sure we are the youth- centric organisation that we strive to be. The changes over the last 5-10 years have impacted the youth demographic the most. To effectively understand what it’s like to be a young person today, the challenges they face, and what support they need, youth participation is the only way we can achieve this. Furthermore, working with our young people is so energising – the passion, enthusiasm, and their perspective are is just brilliant. It makes you want to do everything you can to support more young people to unleash their potential.
What benefits/solutions has improving youth participation brought to your organisation?
In the first year of the young person committee, we wanted to learn how to run a focus group to garner feedback on the programmes and work that the Prince’s Trust does. Participation People helped to facilitate this and the committee ran a series of focus groups with young people who had been on our programmes. The insights that the H&SC team received from this piece of work were incredible. They provided us with such a rich mixture of different perspectives and feedback that we wouldn’t have received through our usual channels of feedback forms and anecdotal comments. For areas that we thought were working well, we realised how we could make them better and for areas we thought weren’t perfect, we learnt them to be something that people valued. As a result of this, we organised a workshop with our leadership and operational staff to take this feedback forward and implement the changes that needed to be made.
What was your biggest learning on engaging with young people? Do you feel you would have known this without youth participation?
For me, it’s been the enthusiasm and commitment to helping the Trust get better and young people’s desire to improve our services for future young people who go through our programmes. We ran a bootcamp for our new committee in April and it was a humbling experience. Although I wasn’t able to stay for the full 2 days, the energy and passion that the group displayed were amazing. It was a group of young people who had chosen to give up their free time to come and be part of something and it made me fully realise just how inspiring the young people we work with are. They all valued the support and opportunities that the Trust had given them and to see how this translated into a commitment to continue to work with us, was just brilliant. I genuinely think that if we hadn’t committed to another year of the committee, we wouldn’t have seen just how pivotal this group can and will be to our work in 2022-23.
Why Participation People?
We wanted to work with Participation People to utilise their skills and experience working with different youth groups and committees across numerous organisations. We wanted to discover alternative approaches and learn ways to get the most out of our young people that would not only benefit the Trust, but also provide both the personal and professional development for the young people involved. Asking the committee and champions to commit to working with us for a year is also a big ask, so we wanted to ensure that they had the opportunity to learn and grow. We wanted a team who could support us across this as well as provide pastoral support and we felt that Participation People could deliver across all aspects.
I’m so excited about the year ahead. We have 25 enthusiastic, engaged, vocal and outright amazing young people who have all committed to working with us over the next year. We have some big projects and ideas that we would like them to work on to help shape our thinking and way forward as we plan the next phase of our H&SC project. As we have such a large group of young people, we have the opportunity to ensure that all aspects of our work and activity can have someone from the committee and champions available to participate and be part of our thinking. In just the first two months of this being in place, we’ve had a champion on all our interview panels, feeding back on
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