"Recognising children and young people as stakeholders with rights is key to meaningful engagement. Mental health and wellbeing services is something that impacts almost all young people and thus it is paramount that their views and opinions are taken into consideration regularly and hold weight. Moreover, we must do the utmost to ensure that children and young people from seldom heard groups or young people who might struggle to be heard through traditional methods of communications are listened to and their views are actively sought out.” (Young person, Joint Delivery Board Member)
The voices and experiences of children, young people and their families are key to the development of all aspects of work relating to the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Joint Delivery Board. This includes decision making, service design, delivery and evaluation.
The following principles have been developed for application across the Joint Delivery Board and its task and finish groups to ensure that meaningful participation and engagement with children and young people is embedded within our processes and actions as the work of the board progresses.
The principles are underpinned by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ensuring every child has the right to be heard in matters affecting them and to participate in the life of their family, community and society; as well as the commitment of The Promise, which is aligned with the National Performance Framework and embeds as its vision the commitment that Scotland’s children should grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential.
Participation and engagement principles
Children and young people actively participate in the work undertaken across the Joint Board and task and finish groups.
Effective youth participation can take the form of consultation, representation and decision making. Each group within the Joint Board Structure must decide how best to engage with children and young people across the task it has been set in order to best inform their work and maximise the positive outcomes for children and young people. This could include:
- undertaking consultation in the most suitable way e.g. through surveys etc
- undertaking listening/engagement sessions with groups of young people
- sense checking work undertaken with groups of young people
- including young people/families in board/ group membership
- using relevant evidence/data already available through other strands of work e.g. community framework/Lockdown Lowdown/The Collective Leadership Group (CLG)
- peer to peer research such as Action Led Youth Research
- a combination of methodologies
The decision on how youth engagement should be undertaken should be based on how to best inform the work whilst ensuring any contribution is not tokenistic and the principles below are considered.
Approaches to engagement and participation will be included in reports to be submitted to the Joint Delivery Board from task and finish groups and will in turn form part of reports to Ministers and COSLA leaders.
Children and young people, are safe and supported when engaging with the Board and/or its subgroups
The board and task and finish groups must ensure that any child or young person contributing to the work of the group is appropriately supported to engage and has a mechanism through which to raise any concerns or improvements that may be required. This could include young people:
- being supported by an external organisation to contribute to the work of the group
- being represented by an external organisation to the group
- being supported by the board’s Youth Engagement Officer
- being supported by a Mentor within the Board/Task and Finish group
Support should include regular check-ins with children and young people to ensure they are not feeling overwhelmed.
Engagement is structured to enable children and young people to participate.
Children and young people may be asked to join variety of meeting types depending on method of participation and engagement chosen by the board e.g. task and finish group meetings or engagement sessions with groups of children and young people. Whether or not the environment allows them to participate fully should be considered in relation to all sessions, with the engagement always designed to best meet their needs. It is essential that the board/groups:
- set the time of the meeting to suit attending children and young people
- consider a pre-meet, with a small number of board members and young people to ensure faces are recognised and trusting relationships established
- ensure adequate notice given for meetings and papers should be issued with time to allow for review and the opportunity to ask questions in advance
- consider the ratio of children and young people to board members and task and finish groups - one child/young person might feel outnumbered
- be aware of use of professional ‘jargon’ and acronyms and ensure materials are available in other formats where appropriate (languages, braille, visual materials etc)
- reimburse any expenses incurred and consider doing this in advance e.g. a child or young person may not have credit to dial into a call
- create other methods of engagement where applicable, for instance video calls, audio/visual submissions
- consider adjusting the agenda to reflect the input of children and young people and where appropriate, allow them to decide whether they wish to stay for the whole meeting or after their input (do not assume that they do or don’t)
- do not overwhelm the child/young person with follow up requests. Check in with them and the supporting agency with what is manageable
- if a YP quote is being included in any communications/resources, ensure written permission is obtained to use the quote/name before publishing
Lifespan of participation is clear, appropriate for children and young people taking part and the engagement mechanism chosen.
The life span of the Joint Delivery Board is two years, we recognise that in some areas of our work, long-term engagement of a child/young person will be beneficial both the work of the board and to the child/young person. However, we are also aware both that this is a significant commitment for any child/young person and that some young people who would make a valuable contribution may be unable to participate for this long. One off or short-term engagement sessions with groups of young people may be equally as valuable as a long-term commitment. When setting up any youth engagement the board and task and finish groups should be clear on the expected term of engagement and ensure that it is meaningful.
Youth engagement is meaningful, informing the work of the board and providing a positive experience for participating children and young people.
- the Board place a high value on the voices of children and young people, ensuring they are appropriately taken forward within the work of the board
- participating children and young people understand how their input is being utilised and are kept up to date on how the work is being progressed in a friendly format
We will involve a diverse group of children and young people, striving to include marginalised and hard to reach voices.
Each group within the joint board structure will engage with voices most relevant to its work. However, we recognise that young people are not a homogenous group.
Where groups of children and young people are engaged with, it is essential that consideration is given to all young people including but not limited to:
- wide geographical representation including rural and urban areas
- representation of children/young people across protected characteristics (age, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex), taking into account intersectionality. Consideration should also be given to the inclusion of non-binary young people
- representation of care experienced children/young people, young carers and young parents
- children/young people with lived experience of mental health issues
- where possible representation should include children and young people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds
- children/young people within the Justice system
- scenarios should be avoided where the same young people are asked to share their stories more than once and learning should be shared across the board and task and finish groups where relevant
The Board will be sensitive to these dynamics and avoid stereotypical assumptions about the views and experiences of children and young people.
Where one young person represents children/young people, they will be supported by an organisation that enables that young person to represent the diverse view of young people.
We are transparent and accountability through our processes and decision making
Children and young people who have directly engaged with the board are kept up to date on its progress, specifically around decision and action they have informed. Any updates must be in an accessible, child/young person format.
Children and young people at a population level can access information on the work of the Joint Delivery Board and how it is progressing, and this must also be in a child/young person friendly format.
The involvement and inputs of the children and young people are recognised and celebrated with them or with the wider community, subject to their consent.
- Decision-making: children and young people's participation
- The participation and engagement of children and young people: our principles and guidelines (Children in Scotland) - Planning and coordination 2. Inclusion 3. Child protection 4. Delivery 5. Communication 6. Feedback, evaluation and next steps
- 7 Golden rules for participation - The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (cypcs.org.uk)
- Factsheet #4: Barriers to Participation | Council For Disabled Children
- YouthLink Scotland | Participative Democracy Certificate
- Ladder of participation
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