Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 14: Dumfries and Galloway Youth Strategy Executive Group, Dumfries and Galloway Council
Service provided by organisation
The Youth Strategy Executive Group was established in 1997 to involve young people in strategic development, service planning, service delivery, research, policy development and evaluation within the council.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
Currently approximately 45 young people are involved in the group, aged between 14 and 25 years old. It is an open group: there are no elections and young people may join at any time.
How participation has been developed
The Youth Strategy Executive Group was established to provide young people with genuine opportunities to influence, rather than just be consulted. The group meets regularly on its own to discuss council business and meets with councillors five times a year. It highlights issues to raise with the council, carries out research on services within the region, is involved in senior council appointments, organises an annual youth conference, and has been consulted by various council departments. A significant area of work has been the Youth Strategy Development Fund where the group has made decisions about applications from local young people, in the process funding over 60 local projects.
The group has its own office at the council to which all group members have ongoing access. There is a specific budget for the group, which is used for a variety of purposes including supporting the local youth conference, attendance at other conferences, the youth festival, and the costs of young people's involvement and training, such as 'BORED meeting training', a training pack for young people on running meetings.
As well as the Youth Strategy Executive Group, there are subgroups including: the Promises Group (young people who evaluate local services that have received council funding), and the Hack Pack Writing Group (young people who write for the Dumfries and Galloway local pages on a national website.) The group is currently working to develop a young people's vision for the region.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- The group has worked in partnership with the council to produce a 'measurements of success' development plan for services that includes measures of success.
- Developing a localised version of the Young Scot card (young person's discount card now used for 'cashless catering' in schools, to be extended to leisure and transport).
- Identified which services are problematic for young people. It is hoped that, as a result, some of the services will become more appropriate for young people. For example, young people have improved access to leisure facilities and subsidised bus fares.
- Supported service development, such as influencing the development of the 'C card' (a sexual health initiative, including condom distribution) through the council's committee process.
' [ Young people ] have their say. Before, young people were overlooked in consultation, so an opportunity to have their say.' (Young person)
Evidence of outcomes from participation
The project has produced the following documentation to evidence the development of participation:
- annual reports
- minutes of meetings
- development plan
- publicity material
- youth conference reports.
Contact person and role: Ian Donaldson (youth strategy coordinator)
Address: Council Offices, English Street, Dumfries DG1 2PS
Telephone: 01387 260 041