Participation

Collaborative approaches to planning the national children’s rights awareness raising campaign – the story of the young people’s awareness raising subgroup

June 24, 2022 by No Comments | Category Children & young people, Guest blog, Scottish Government insights

In our previous post ‘Taking forward UNCRC implementation in Scotland’ we highlighted our work co-planning a national awareness raising campaign on children’s rights, with children and young people involved in ‘Rights Right Now!

We knew from the beginning that in order to make sure any Scottish Government campaign to raise awareness of children’s rights effective, children and young people had to play a key role in message, design and content!

Young People from ‘Rights Right Now!’ were invited to be part of an online subgroup and undertake research to explore communication tools and techniques that were most effective in capturing the attention of children and young people. Two young people from ‘Rights Right Now!’ took part.

Our activities were guided by Lundy’s (2007) model of child participation.

Below we share how we use this model to support our reflection on the effectiveness of the subgroup’s participation activities.

Reflection using the Lundy Model

Space: Safe, inclusive opportunities to form and express views

What did it look like in practice?
  • young people opted in to participate and co-designed the online space: aims, culture, pace
  • tailored support to meet individual needs
  • getting to know you information issued in advance to establish relationships
  • flexible participation i.e. option to have cameras on /off; contribute verbally or via the chat function; or take on a listening role and submit ideas after the meeting
  • ongoing emphasis that participation should feel low-burden
What learning did we take from it?
  • it is important to ensure young people understand the group’s purpose, their role and set realistic expectations from the outset
  • sharing ‘getting to know you’ information reduced barriers to participation however establishing relationships with the wider ‘Rights Right Now!’ group earlier in the process may have encouraged greater numbers to accept the subgroup invitation
  • small groups were effective in creating a comfortable and welcoming space, young people were able to speak freely and openly
  • a co-production approach encouraged a sense of shared leadership and belonging and created a culture based on everyone’s needs and preferences
  • an additional session to examine conclusions and next steps as well as support reflection on the process and individual experiences would have ensured young people were more informed about their impact and provided useful insight to planning improvements for future subgroups

Voice: Children must be facilitated to express their views

What did it look like in practice?
  • child-friendly materials shared with young people in advance to support their understanding of the topic, provide opportunities to reflect and form opinions
  • opportunities for structured and unstructured dialogue and time offered to each individual to contribute uninterrupted (verbally, via the chat, submit views after the meeting)
  • use of visual aids such as jamboards, Powerpoint and videos to share and collaborate
  • adult facilitators checked in with young people to check their views were understood and recorded accurately
  • reminder at the start of each meeting that participation was flexible and young people could opt out at any time
What learning did we take from it?
  • young people have different ways of developing understanding and expressing themselves,  using examples and visual aids supported understanding
  • active listening ensured interactions felt safe and encouraged open sharing of opinions and ideas
  • pausing for short periods as a whole group felt important to provide opportunities for reflection and questions
  • inviting contributions from each member individually, encouraging use of the online chat and hands-up functions ensured the space was accessible to all
  • on reflection it may have been useful to issue more details on the research task before the first meeting

Audience: Children’s views must be listened to.

What did it look like in practice?
  • through the subgroup young people worked directly with representatives from the Scottish Government Children’s Rights Unit and Together to co-produce a research project that explored their peers’ views on media campaigns as a tool for communication
  • following a group discussion to specify the research aims, identify key questions and methodologies it was agreed that the young people would have individual autonomy over how they would undertake their role as a researcher: deciding where to conduct research, who to ask, how to record findings and feedback to the subgroup
  • a representative from the Scottish Government’s Social Content Hub attended the second subgroup session to share information about their role and hear directly from the young people about their experiences as social media users
  • the young people understood that their research findings and comments would be shared with the wider Children’s Rights Unit to influence the development of the national awareness raising campaign
What learning did we take from it?
  • direct collaboration with decision makers made sure young people’s views were heard clearly, responded to and recorded accurately
  • this direct engagement also strengthened relationships between the young people and colleagues
  • as a result the young people involved were enthusiastic about participating in other activities
  • it was particularly beneficial to involve a colleague currently working in the social media team in discussions as this emphasised the Scottish Government’s commitment to true collaboration with children and young people

Influence: Children’s views must be taken seriously and acted upon, where appropriate

What did it look like in practice?
  • the subgroup was coordinated by the Children’s Rights Unit and it was made clear from the outset that there were established procedures in place to ensure the young people’s views were directly communicated to decision makers including the UNCRC Strategic Implementation Board (SIB)
  • young people had a lead role in planning and conducting the research, sharing their findings and drawing overall conclusions
  • The Children’s Rights Unit provided feedback in a variety of formats based on previous suggestions from the young people (verbal, video and via child-friendly text) to summarise and confirm key findings, highlight the impact of their research and next steps
What learning did we take from it?
  • direct engagement with key professionals and having an understanding of how their views would be communicated to strategic decision makers supported the young people to feel valued, heard and taken seriously
  • due to high levels of autonomy over the research planning and methodology the young people developed a sense of ownership of the project and this was demonstrated through high levels of commitment, enthusiasm and confidence to undertake the research and provide feedback
  • providing feedback in formats requested by the young people supported their understanding of how they had influenced national awareness raising campaign planning and strengthened relationships between the young people and Children’s Rights Unit
  • this positive experience will encourage young people to engage in future engagement opportunities

We would like to thank ‘Rights Right Now!’ for their involvement in this important piece of work. The next phase will involve further explorations of these themes to ensure the awareness raising campaign meets the needs and preferences of children and young people across Scotland.

Share your own experiences by commenting below. Do you have any top tips for engaging with children and young people?


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