Involving Young People in Decision-making from the Start!

Involving Young People in Decision-making from the Start!

Written by OF Wellbeing Ambassador – Ormiston Families

When creating or developing services for young people, how often are we putting forward ideas that we think will work for them, rather than ensuring that we are working with them to develop their ideas? The Ormiston Families #WeWill project was keen to be youth-led from the start by involving young people in one of the most important aspects of decision making – recruitment.

Here at Ormiston Families, we sat down with the team of young people
involved in recruiting our team, to find out why it is so important that young people are given a say from the beginning. They decided an interview style would work best in giving them the space to share their views.

Why is it important that young people are involved in recruitment and decision-making for organisations that work with children and young people, especially mental health services?

It is important in involving young people in the recruitment and decision making of the service as this is a service they are going to be accessing. If young people feel uncomfortable or don’t feel their needs are met by staff introduced, then the overall experience will not be beneficial. Especially when looking at mental health services, young people need to be able to feel safe and welcomed, not only by the mental health team but even other members of staff, from receptionist staff and other workers in the shared space.

When struggling it can make many young people feel more uncomfortable and having approachable staff, will improve the atmosphere and positive change. As a young person, I have personally helped interview, which was an amazing experience, with opportunities to give over my opinion. While also meeting prospective staff, I was able to experience how they would interact with me and others… Interactions can speak a lot about someone’s character.

What kind of adaptations should organisations make to ensure that working with young people is inclusive for all?

Organisations need to be adaptable for people with any disability; physical, mental or learning. You would think this is self-explanatory, but I have accessed a wide range of services and they all seem to offer a one size fits all approach. Every person is different and will interact in different ways and not every therapeutic method or working style will work for them. Help should be adapted for each and every individual that walks through the door, to ensure a service is fully inclusive.

What are the benefits when involving young people in recruitment and decision-making?

When a young person is involved, the organisation will benefit because they’ll be providing a service that is tailored to what young people want, need and feel comfortable with. Not only that, but it will also make a young person feel a sense of worth, by having involvement, ownership and allowing their voice to be heard. How can a service provide the best for young people, if young people don’t have any input?

Why do you think the #WeWill project in Great Yarmouth will be beneficial? Is there anything in particular that needs to be considered when working within this community?

When I heard about the #WeWill project in Great Yarmouth, I was amazed. Having been through education, there is a need for extra support through ambassadors for projects such as this. A lot of the time, people don’t want to approach adults and teachers straight away as it is daunting and so I wish there was a project like this when I was at school, as it sounds like a young person will be fully supported and get a lot out of the project. The support for young people in Great Yarmouth is needed.

What can schools do to encourage more children and young people to participate in having their voices heard?

I think schools need to provide a range of services. When I was at school, we had Heads of Years, who we could approach if we needed extra help or support. These members of staff also provided extra care, at times when students were upset, allowing them to have a safe space, which was more helpful, allowing a young person to calm down, than always just trying to fix problems. They also provided a quiet work room for students who were struggling in a class environment, for a number of reasons. When schools involve young people, it will create an environment they enjoy coming to and not dread. It’s understandable that not all the voices that are heard can be implemented but some might have beneficial ideas.



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