Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 3: Gregory's Place - Peer Support Groups, Barnardo's
Service provided by organisation
Gregory's Place was established in 1995 to provide a planning, support and bereavement service to children and young people affected by HIV and their carers. The peer support groups are young person-led.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
There are two peer support groups: one for children aged 10-15, and one for young people aged 16-18. All members are either infected or affected by HIV. There are approximately 13 group members. More than half of them are male, and there is a broad mix of minority ethnic groups.
How participation has been developed
The peer support groups are led by young people. Evaluation forms are used at the end of each group session to inform activities for future ones. The support groups have been encouraged to identify issues to campaign on and have been successful in raising awareness of HIV and highlighting related issues.
Although participation is not identified in the project's mission statement, job descriptions or training, staff feel that it is integral to their work and there is a dedicated budget for the support groups. The importance of feedback and rewarding children and young people for their involvement is emphasised to all external agencies. The project recently won a Barnardo's 'Investors in Young People' award: a cash prize that the young people chose how to spend.
The groups are run both from a child-friendly room within the project and from school halls and community centres, to make them as accessible as possible for the groups. The children and young people involved in the groups have not received any training, but comment that they receive sufficient support from project workers.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- The group have raised awareness of HIV and Aids through the production of a video for conferences, schools and practitioners, leaflets and postcards sent to family planning clinics and a public display for World Aids Day.
- The group have been instrumental in campaigning for the forthcoming establishment of a support group for young carers.
- The group have been involved in writing job descriptions and recruiting staff.
- An increased understanding of HIV 'at their own pace' has allowed the support group members to grow in confidence and develop social relationships.
Evidence of outcomes from participation
The project has produced the following documentation to evidence the development of participation:
- Service Business Plan 2004-05, outlining project aims
- activity/group planning sheet
- group publicity
- 'evaluation of group activities' form (staff and child).
Contact person and role: Michelle Ward (play and leisure volunteer coordinator)
Address: Gregory's Place, 69 Ardwick Green North, Manchester M12 6ES
Telephone: 0161 273 2901