Involving children and young people in developing social care
Case study 5: Making Inclusion a Reality (MIAR), Barnardo's
Service provided by organisation
MIAR was established in 2003 to support excluded young people in utilising social and leisure opportunities.
Characteristics of children/young people involved
Sixteen young people aged 5-13 who are excluded from other services due to disabilities, lack of confidence, poverty or rural isolation. There is an equal gender mix and most of the users are white.
How participation has been developed
Children and young people have been involved in the development of the project from its inception. They chose the group name, devised the ground rules, selected the operating times and come up with the activities the group undertakes.
All staff within the project are responsible for promoting participation. This is emphasised in general staff training, job descriptions, and the projects admissions policy, copies of which are given to children and parents. Staff have also received 'total communication' training to facilitate the involvement of children and young people with communication difficulties.
Children and young people have been involved in consultations and staff recruitment; for the latter, they received a certificate and gift vouchers. The group's aims and activities are highlighted in MIAR News, a regular users' newsletter, and local newspapers and radio stations also publicise their work. Children and young people are able to raise issues through weekly 'circle time', questionnaires and meetings.
The project has recently reviewed its work through compiling a report and a drama presentation for parents and professionals. Families have been actively engaged in the project through regular meetings and event days.
Changes or improvements as a result of children and young people's participation
- input into local Play Association's policy on play
- involvment in Somerset Children's Fund staff interviews
- joint working to improve service provision, as a result of trips undertaken to local leisure services
- developing social networks of users' families
- providing children with 'nowhere else to go' with the self-confidence to utilise new services.
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
- event evaluation and user comment forms
- group aims and admissions policy
- MIAR News newsletter
- six-month review by parents
- evidence and reports on participation.
Contact person and role: Tracey Hallett (project worker)
Address: Wellbridge House, North Street, Crewkerne TA18 7AX
Telephone: 07801 285 861