Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 4: Lambeth Youth Council, Lambeth Council
Service provided by organisation
Lambeth Youth Council was established in 2002 to involve young people in improving local services and policy, and to encourage them to become community leaders.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
One hundred black and minority ethnic young people aged 11-24 are involved in the youth council. It is open to all young people with an interest in community development. There is an equal gender mix.
How participation has been developed
The youth council was established following the continued involvement of a group of young people in local authority events. More members were recruited via outreach work and word of mouth. Although the youth council meets weekly to discuss issues, their work is more project-focused. They currently have three main areas of work: the Peer Inspection project, the Teenage Pregnancy Peer Education project and the Stop and Search project. The young people involved in these projects receive a variety of relevant external training and receive payment and accreditation (either through the Youth Achievement Award or Millennium Award) for their work.
Video consultations and questionnaires are also carried out with a wide range of young people within Lambeth. Eight young people have recently been elected as youth executive members whose role is to shadow councillors and highlight issues raised within the youth council meetings.
Lambeth Council have demonstrated a commitment to participation through their provision of funding and work with the youth council. The latter feels that it has considerable access to all council services and councillors. The youth council budget includes money for staffing, resources, publicity and payments for the young people. There are three full-time project workers and an administrator to facilitate the youth council's work. Participation is emphasised in Lambeth Council's Youth and Play Service Strategy and in youth service staff training. Youth council staff receive internal training (involving youth council members), as well as external training about participation.
The youth council's work is highly visible within the community: local newspapers as well as youth council information and publicity highlight the positive work undertaken by the young people. All work undertaken is evaluated by participants.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- a direct improvement in services for young people in Lambeth (e.g. better sex education in schools, improved training for police officers, improved youth projects)
- improving awareness of the benefits of involving children and young people within the council
'Previously certain councillors were wary of involving children and young people. Now they want to, and appreciate that the young people are not there just to complain but to work together to find positive solutions' (Youth council development worker)
- peer inspection is now built into the quality assessment framework of the Youth and Play Service
- increased self-confidence, skill development and work experience for young people
'More than words can describe, the personal development has been first class' (Young person)
- a greater willingness by a variety of decision-making bodies (e.g. the local strategic partnership, area committees) to engage with and involve young people.
Evidence of outcomes from participation
The project has produced the following documentation to evidence the development of participation:
- a guide to peer inspection including mission statement
- North Lambeth Town Centre Peer Inspection Report
- media coverage.
Contact person and role: Kylie Turuwhenua (youth council development manager)
Address: Room B17, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW
Telephone: 020 7926 2193