Guest post: a young person’s report on the workshop

Following on from my last post: while I’m still looking through all the notes from last week’s workshop, one of the young people who attended sent me this fantastic report of the day. Huge thanks to Ellen Thompson (aged 14) for writing this excellent overview, and for agreeing that I could publish it as a guest post. Now I just need to follow it!

Embedding children and young people’s participation in health and social care services


King’s College, London


A round-up of the presentations and discussions

Maggie Atkinson – Children’s Commissioner For England

Maggie Atkinson suggested that the NHS sees children as people whose opinion doesn’t count and this clearly must change as children and young people are big users of the NHS. She said that every child has the basic human right to have their voice heard and taken seriously in every aspect of their life including their health and social care. It was also suggested that for children to understand what health and social care they had, the information they were given had to be written in plain English. This would also help them to decide what rights they had.

She strongly suggested that children were experts in their own life and therefore should be able to put their views across to their health and social care services. Any form of participation had to reach both children living in rural and urban areas so their opinions from across the country could make a difference. It was also brought to our attention that when a child reaches 18 any extra support they were given is lost even though it is still needed.


Amanda Allard – Principal Officer, Council For Disabled Children

Amanda Allard said that children and young people are often so happy to receive any health or social care that they don’t feel that complaining is the right thing to do, even though it could help them and others. To make sure that children and young people take the advice given to them we must listen to them when they have any issues. To help the children and young people to feed back their views, they need to understand about how the NHS works and how to make complaints.

Investing In Children


Investing In Children is a partnership between the local authority in Durham and the NHS to promote the Human Rights of young people. They run various participation activities. They sent young people out to review local health and social centres to see if they were suitable for young people. This was called mystery shopping and the example given focused on sexual health. They would give feedback on how to improve services, and if the organisations followed this they would receive an award. This is a good way to get young people involved in participation as they don’t have to sit on a panel.

Association For Young People’s Heath – Be Healthy

Be Healthy was a project that got young people to try to show other young people and managers of health and social care services how the services should be run, so that young people would want to use them and would benefit fully from them. They also suggested that young adults should be able to talk about health issues they want to talk about, not what adults thought they should talk about.

Young Minds- VIK

The VIK or Very Important Kids’ panel was set up to try to improve mental health services for young people. They would do activities to raise awareness, and also talked to many mental health services. One girl who was part of VIK talked about how being part of participation had helped her become a lot more confident. She could now use public transport on her own; she also made lots of friends and felt she was more able to cope with her mental illness.

North Bristol Community Children’s Health Partnership

The HYPE (Helping Young People Engage) team of the North Bristol Community Children’s Health Partnership involve children in different levels of their local healthcare facilities, such as those for mental health, children’s therapists, disabled children and children in care. Projects the children and families are involved in include recruitment of staff, making art work and designing leaflets.

East & North Hertfordshire NHS trust 

This project showed children from a school in Stevenage that the NHS is an exciting place, offering many career choices, not just those for doctors and nurses. The children who took part designed a new look for the Lister Hospital so it would appeal to teenagers aged 14-16. They then had to do a Dragon’s Den style presentation to managers at the hospital. This gave them the opportunity to develop their design skills, confidence and teamwork skills.

Pupils also ran a health awareness stall at a health action day, and will be involved in community work in the future.

In general:

The main points that came across through discussions were that participation should be a shared responsibly at all levels in health and social care services.  All participants should be shown how their input actually helped. It was also important that the young people involved knew that there may be limitations to what could be achieved – and that everyone can have fun being involved.

Presentations and other information from 10th July workshop

Following on from my last post, this is an update on the workshop I chaired yesterday at Kings College London. The workshop was attended by 110 adults and young people who, inspired by some fantastic presentations, engaged with great enthusiasm in discussions and debates on the topic of  ’embedding children and young people’s participation in health and social care services’. The workshop provided the opportunity for everyone to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for children and young people’s participation in health and social care services, as well providing practical examples from children and young people and organisations working with them.

A Storify of tweets sent about the day is available here and in the post below, and a report on the group discussion is here along with a young person’s report on the day.

Here’s a summary of what was covered by the presenters:

We opened with a keynote presentation from Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England.

MA photo

Maggie got us off to an inspiring start with a presentation on ‘Living up to our promises on children’s rights’  by reminding us about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in particular what the UN Committee had to say in their recent General Comment on Article 24 ‘the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health’. She also talked about what the NHS and Department of Health has said and done so far in relation to children and young people’s participation, particularly with regards to the Children and Young People’s Health Outcome Forum report and the opportunities provided by the government’s pledge in response (including putting the pledge in language accessible to young people). She referred  to the OCC report “We Would Like to Make A Change” which is about the patchy and uneven involvement of children and young people in decision-making and health service design, delivery, evaluation and improvement. She reminded us that real participation is about the giving away of power, and urged commissioners to challenge services to demonstrate how they are involving children and young people in the design and delivery of services. She closed by suggested that we needed to move on from conversations about the importance of hearing children’s voices, and start talking about how to make it happen. Which we duly did!

We then heard from Amanda Allard, Principal Officer at the Council for Disabled Children on ‘Embedding children’s voices within the new NHS’ :

AA photo

Following group discussions and lunch, we reconvened for a series of short presentations giving practical examples of children and young people’s participation.

We started off with a presentation from Investing in Children on ‘Young on people’s reflections on being involved in the planning and delivery of their health services’:

This was followed by the Association for Young People’s Health talking about ‘Be Healthy – A participation project exploring the health needs of young  people affected by sexual exploitation’. More information on the project, including the fantastic video shown as part of their presentation can be found at:

The next presentation was from Young Minds on: ‘Very important
journey: an overview of the Young Minds Very Important Kids (VIK) Project’:

The VIK Legacy book mentioned during the presentation is available here:

We then heard from Emily Roberts, from Barnardo’s, who talked about the work they’re doing with North Bristol NHS Trust on the Community Children’s Health Partnership.

Our final presentation of the day was from East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, and some of the young people who have worked with them, on ‘Engaging young people in an acute hospital’:

Following more discussions, questions and some very interesting issues being raised (of which more when the day is written up), we all went home with our heads buzzing with ideas – or at least I did!

Thanks so much to everyone who helped to make the day a success – including all the presenters and participants, KCL for providing the venue, Janet Noble an James Blewett at KCL/Making Research Count and UWE for publicity and organising bookings.

Welcome and information on 10/7 workshop

Welcome to this blog on ’embedding children and young people’s participation in health services’. As the workshop I’ve organised on this topic is happening in a couple of days – here’s the flyer with some more information:Workshop_10.7.13_CYP participation in H&SC_flyer and the agenda: MRC workshop_agenda.

The workshop is fully booked, including lots of young delegates, and we’ve got some great speakers so it should be a great day. Sorry to those people we couldn’t fit in, but hopefully this blog is another way to continue the conversation. I’ll also post presentations after the event and a report on key points from the discussion.

You can also follow discussions on the day by following #cyphsc on Twitter.