Citizenship and participation of children and young people

Involving children and parents/carers as citizens, partners and decision-makers requires a co-ordinated and practical approach at a local level. It requires professionals at all levels to identify opportunities for participation. In order to develop a participatory approach, professionals need to understand techniques to promote it and ensure that they are embedded within their service ethos.

The benefits of participation are that it gives children and young people a voice and influences significant changes for them and the wider community. As a result, services will be more effective, and better targeted and received. The involvement of children and young people is also key to sustaining developments.




Methods for successful participation and engagement of children and young people

There is a wide range of valuable information about participation. YoungMinds have produced guidance about how services can develop their approach to involving children and young people called Putting Participation into Practice. Some of the key principles underpinning effective participation are:



Case study: Agenda days

In County Durham and Darlington agenda days are held. These are days where young people research specific issues by involving other young people; they work with children and young people, asking them questions and exploring their perspectives. Agenda days have been held to look at CAMHS and what young people think of these services.

The young people who facilitate the agenda days invite young people along to the particular events, ask pre-prepared questions and then finally write up reports, which include everything young people have said at the agenda day. During agenda days no adults are present so they do not influence the perspectives of the young people in voicing their opinions. They have found from experience that agenda days work well because the young people feel completely listened to and respected.

Learn more from the Durham, Darlington and Tees pilot site

Case study: Participation with vulnerable groups in Walsall

Instead of creating their own group within the tight timeframe of the pilot, Walsall worked with an already established anti-bullying group, recruiting a small working group to initiate and set up an anti-stigma sub group. The anti-bullying group consisted of children and young people from across Walsall that may have experienced bullying, or who act as peer mentors within schools with a role in preventing bullying.

Read the full case study in the Walsall pilot site section.



  • Adobe Acrobat Document Conference handbook. Exploring participation in CAMHS: Improving the involvement of children, young people and their carers in Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

    Handbook for the 2005 national conference aiming to share good practice in developing participation in child and adolescent mental health services. The conference was a real first in presenting innovative and creative methods of listening to children's and young people’s views, both about individual decisions affecting their healthcare, treatment and education and also in the development of services. The handbook usefully contains articles written by those who presented workshops at the conference. It illustrates the wealth of knowledge that can be drawn upon by staff looking to develop participatory ways of working.

    Publisher: National CAMHS Support Service (NCSS)
    Published Date: 08/07/2005

  • Adobe Acrobat Document Young people's research diary

    Ecotec have developed a diary that young people involved in tackling stigma projects can use to record their journey. It also contains a short questionnaire to help to monitor the impact being part of the project has had on them.

    Publisher: Ecotec
    Published Date: 27/09/2010



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