Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 7: Triangle
Service provided by organisation
Triangle is a specialist childhood disability organisation, established in 1997, providing training and consultancy to individuals and organisations throughout the UK, and outreach support to children and young people in the south of England. All Triangle's work is with and on behalf of disabled children, and consultation with children and young people is built in both internally, through consultation groups to inform their work, and externally, through specific consultation work for other organisations.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
There are three internal consultation groups divided roughly by age but with some flexibility: one for children up to age 10, one for children aged 9-15, and one for young people aged 15-25. There are approximately 40 regular members, with an even gender mix, and a third of the children are from ethnic minorities. All the children and young people in the two older groups are disabled; the younger group is inclusive (about half the group have particular needs).
The majority (80 per cent) of Triangle's consultation work comprises external work engaging children and young people outside these groups. Through this, Triangle has consulted with more than 1,200 disabled children and young people across the UK.
How participation has been developed
Triangle involves children and young people in a range of decisions - from how the groups are run and what services the organisation should develop to staff recruitment. All work undertaken for external organisations is done with the commitment of the commissioners to take action on those issues raised through the work.
Younger children are rewarded with vouchers, while older young people are paid either hourly or per session, depending on their involvement and the activity. A participation budget incorporates travel expenses, support costs, venues, resources and staff time. The two older consultation groups help manage their own budgets.
The organisation has a fully accessible room, adapted to support children and young people with a variety of needs. Staff within the project are able to communicate with children using a wide variety of methods to ensure everyone's opinion is valued.
In addition to the consultation groups, the organisation facilitates consultation with children and young people for external agencies on a range of issues and services. These consultations are preceded by contact with the children and their parents to ensure that both understand what the work involves and the importance of participation.
All staff within the project are responsible for involving children and young people. This is emphasised in job descriptions, training and the company's mission statement. An internal review was completed this year.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- A raised awareness - both internally and externally - of disabled children's rights to be involved.
'You can see this through the way in which Triangle has grown as an organisation.' (Young person)
- Strong influence by young people on decisions about work - whether to accept or decline requests for work, how to focus funding bids.
- Impact on national policy - e.g. through presentations at the House of Commons and at the Audit Commission.
- Change in specific practices in services, including bedtimes policy, staff practice, security within residential homes, playtime support, homework policy, arrangements for outings in schools, consent practice and staff allocation in hospitals.
- Supported development of consultative groups in other areas.
- Sign language, symbol communication and other methods learned by several of the young people.
'The main thing was the opportunity to gain employment, which is especially difficult for disabled people.' (Young person)
Evidence of outcomes from participation
The project has produced the following documentation to evidence the development of participation:
- job descriptions that include reference to the importance of participation
- recruitment advertisement for young people
- outline of training sessions
- reports of consultations with disabled children and young people in different formats.
Contact person and role: Ruth Marchant (co-director)
Address: Unit E1, The Knoll Business Centre, Old Shoreham Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 7GS.
Telephone: 01273 413 141