Participation fundamentals

February 16, 2021


Sheila Bates, the children’s champion within participation team services writes that in Coventry children’s services their vision is that children and young people are at the heart of everything they do. The participation team provides quality assurance around the voice of the child and, in so doing, monitors that the policy and practice of services reflect how the young people feel, what they need, and most importantly what they’re telling the service.

Sheila continues:

This work is encapsulated in our participation strategy which identifies how the voice of the child is incorporated in all aspects of the support Coventry children’s services provide. For example, the strategy requires us to ensure that case note files reflect the voice of the child. 

Top tips for a great participation strategy

The involvement of children and young people are central to understanding their needs and the impact our services are having upon them. Participation work takes time, needs to be responsive and be accountable for what we learn from the activity.  Having a clear participation strategy helps all involved understand what the focus is and their areas of responsibility.  Monitoring enables us to capture the journey we are all on and identify where services need to adapt.

The whole service needs to buy into participation and recognise its value. Staff and partner agencies must be on board. For example, we’ve taken young people to the local hospital and talked about their anxieties and how to make the environment more child friendly.

Be smart about what you do. Participation needs to be regular, timely and accessible for children and young people. You must keep them in the loop and feeling informed and valued. That’s children, young people, carers, services and whoever else is involved. As a participation lead, I’m accountable to all these people to make sure they are kept informed and up to date. The participation strategy is central to all that activity.

Have a longer read

Sheila elaborates with some fantastic rich detail and more top tips in this long read entitled Participation: meeting the challenges. We highly recommend this article as a great read.

Many thanks to Sheila for the last in our trilogy of blogs and articles from Coventry children’s services. Here are the previous two:

In their own words

Top Tips for engaging children with additional needs