How children and young people were involved in research analysing youth creative participation and engagement across Laois and Offaly
The project or initiative on which we involved children and young people in decision-making
A piece of research analysing youth creative participation and engagement across Laois and Offaly.
The topic on which we were looking for their views
Youth engagement and participation in creative activities across Laois and Offaly.
The reason we wanted their views
Their views were required to provide the Local Creative Youth Partnership with a contemporary picture of existing youth participation and engagement in creativity across Laois and Offaly.
The decision-makers that facilitated and listened to their views
The person responsible for conducting the research was an independent research consultant (KTCL) and the Youth Services Officer Laois Offaly Education Training Board (LOETB)
The decision-makers responsible for acting on their views
Youth Services Officer LOETB and the Creative Coordinator Local Creative Youth Partnership (LOETB)
The age profile of the children or young people
Other relevant information about the children or young people (e.g. disability, ethnic background, social disadvantage, etc.)
Children and young people from within the Traveller Community and other ethnic minorities, those living in economically and socially disadvantaged areas, LGBT+ groups, those living in rural isolated areas, those within the Youth Diversion Projects
How we gave space, voice, audience and influence to young people’s views
How we ensured a safe and inclusive space to hear the views of young people
Things we considered
What we did
The space or setting where we got their views (this may include online settings)
The setting where we arranged to meet with the children and young people was their own group/club surroundings, a familiar setting to them. This enabled them to feel safe to express their views/opinions.
Online surveys were also part of the consultation process. Those who could not take part in the online or group setting, such as the migrant community were invited to take part in face-face interviews with integration officers to assist them.
How you identified the children and young people to be involved
Invitations to take part in the research were forwarded to all the leaders of youth clubs, groups and organisations across Laois and Offaly under the LOETB Youth Services.
How you involved those who were directly affected by the topic
All children and young people were affected by the topic; however, we did specifically target those who are considered seldom heard and hard to reach.
How early in the process they were involved in decision-making
Children and young people were involved from the very beginning through their participation in the initial research that identified what the participation and engagement of children and young people were in creativity across the ETB area.
How the process was inclusive and accessible
We tried to reach as many children and young people as possible across the two counties in both rural and urban areas.
We also targeted youth clubs, groups and organisations working with minority groups, resulting in 16 targeted focus groups, 2 individual interviews and an online survey with 153 children and young people ranging in age from 10 – 20 years.
How we gave young people a voice in decisions
Things we considered
What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
At the beginning of each session, we explained the research process to the group, what their participation meant and how their input and data would be treated.
Before we visited these groups, we engaged the help of Comhairle na nÓg and Hub na nÓg to ensure the language we were using was child and young-person friendly.
How we made sure they knew their views would be taken seriously
We explained that their views were required so that the Local Creative Youth Partnership could start working.
We need their suggestion and views to develop a work plan without them, we would not be able to carry out the work of the Local Creative Youth Partnership.
How we informed them about level of influence they could have on decision-making
The youth officer explained that their suggestions and views would make up the work plan for the local creative youth partnership.
It will be their suggestions and views that will enable the local creative youth partnership to fund creative programmes that are not available in their areas.
The youth officer explained we would return at a later stage to let them know the outcome and impact of their suggestion and views.
The methods we used to get their views
When working with the focus groups we wanted to create an atmosphere for the full and frank expression of views. This happened through informal conversations along with a combination of methods co-facilitated by the primary researcher and the youth services officer.
To create a relaxing, informal atmosphere, the combination of methods we used was – circle time and wall of ideas. Everyone sat around in circles with no more than 8 in each circle with an adult leader for every circle to ensure all children’s and young people’s views got expressed. On the floor beside them were markers and post-its.
They were invited during the session to write or draw their suggestions (3 suggestions each) and place them on the wall where the title What is Creativity was written.
In some cases, for those less able to write or draw the adult leader was told verbally and could write on the post-it and place it on the wall to ensure all children and young people’s suggestions and views were gathered.
How we made sure they could identify topics they wanted to discuss
What we did when the wall of ideas was completed with suggestions and views, we asked the children and young people if they could they find any similarities and with the help of the children and young people we started to group those similarities leading to the topics for discussion.
Please describe the topics and issues they raised
How we made sure that there was an audience (decision-makers) for young people’s views
Things we considered
What we did
How we developed a report or record of the young people’s view
A report was developed titled Research Analysing Youth Creative Participation and Engagement Across Laois and Offaly.
This is how we recorded the suggestions/views of the children and young people.
Included in the report is a list of all those who were consulted in the process, outcomes of the focus group consultations and online surveys.
How we checked back with them that their views were accurately represented
When compiling the report, the primary researcher worked closely with leaders of the youth clubs, groups, and organisations who were the go-between to ensure the children and young people’s suggestions and views were fully represented as intended.
We decided at the end of 2019 to carry out an Evaluation of Laois Offaly Local Creative Youth Partnership to ensure we heard correctly what children and young people had expressed in the research piece and to check in with them to see if we had we acted upon their suggestions and views.
How we involved the decision-makers who are responsible for influencing change (other than yourself)
We involved the Arts Officers, Youth Officers, Heritage and Cultural Representatives along with the Director of Schools for LOETB who make up the LO LCYP Steering Group.
These decision-makers are committed to listening to and acting upon the views of children and young people in the development and delivery of the LO LCYP to bring about change.
Also, we involved those working at ground level youth workers, community workers and volunteers.
At what point we involved decision makers other than yourself in the process
We involved the steering group at the initial stages of the research process to understand the local context, agree on key objectives and identify and explore any issues and challenges. Regular updates were given to the Steering Group.
We also involved those working with young people during the initial stages of the consultation process and with follow-ups throughout the process.
How we and other decision-makers showed our commitment to listening to, and acting on young people’s views
We showed our commitment by listening to and acting on children and young people’s views by commissioning an independent consultant to carry out a piece of research leading to the report Research Analysing Youth Creative Participation and Engagement Across Laois and Offaly.
We then used the recommendations of this report to inform the development agenda for the LO LCYP Steering group with its many stakeholders.
This way we were able to ensure that the voice of children and young people was acted upon in a sustainable and appropriate manner.
How we supported young people to play a role in communicating their own views to decision-makers
We have supported children and young people to communicate their suggestions/views to decision-makers by commissioning the report – Research Analysing Youth Creative Participation and Engagement Across Laois and Offaly.
This report was made available to all youth clubs’ groups and organisations across the two counties.
We also found that the scheduling of the Focus Groups provided additional insights and perspectives and offered opportunities to connect more closely with decision-makers such as volunteers, community players and those who provide youth and creative services at the local level.
We found this way of working proved invaluable in building trust, and understanding and in providing safe spaces for children and young people to participate to have their voices heard.
How young people were given updates at key points in the development of the plan
Things we considered
What we did
How we informed young people about the topics on which we wanted their views
We explained and discussed with the children and young people that took part in the focus groups that we would update them moving forward with any developments.
The children and young people were always kept in the loop by the primary researcher who worked closely with leaders of the youth clubs, groups, and organisations, who acted as the go-between to ensure the children and young people’s suggestions and views were fully represented as intended.
We decided at the end of 2019 to carry out an Evaluation of Laois Offaly Local Creative Youth Partnership to ensure we heard correctly what children and young people had expressed in the research piece and to check in with them to see if we had acted upon their suggestions and views.
How their views were acted on by the appropriate decision-makers (what happened to their views)
Their suggestions and views were acted upon when the research findings of the report identified barriers that prevented children and young people from being actively involved in creativity.
No Transport to get to places where creativity takes place
Cost as a barrier to entry
Lack of facilities and spaces to hang out
Poor availability of creative programmes
The LO LCYP acted by putting measures in place to address these barriers such as No-Cost Creative Programme, Pop up Creative Hubs in rural areas and more choices of creative activities to address these barriers.
Whether we continually checked back with children and young people about the ways you used their views with decision-makers (if possible or appropriate)
The primary researcher was continually checking back and forth with the local youth service providers that helped formed the focus groups.
Once creative programmes were implemented as suggested by the children and young people then the coordinator of the LO LCYP would make an informal site visit as a follow-up.
How they were given full and age-appropriate feedback explaining how their views were used (or not) and the reasons for decisions taken
Feedback was given by the coordinator of the LO LCYP who interacted regularly with the projects through informal site visits to give updates and feedback on how their views and opinions were used.
This was carried out by sitting around chatting and eating pizza.
We used the same methods to give feedback as we used to gather their suggestion/views.
How we enabled them to evaluate the process throughout
We enabled them to evaluate the process by keeping them updated with any new developments and by checking and double checking we were acting on their suggestions.
The coordinator interacted regularly with the projects gathering feedback.
She also carried out informal site visits to many of the projects where she observed and consulted with the children and young people.
What young people said in the evaluation
In the evaluation, the children and young people expressed surprise that they were seeing the results of their input that took place during the research phase.
Overall, they were happy that they had options and ways of expressing what they felt were important to them.
What changes were made because of children/young people giving their views?
This research element formed the first phase of the Local Creative Youth Partnership development process for Laois and Offaly. The recommendations informed the development agenda for the Local Creative Youth Partnership, ensuring that the voice of children and young people were acted upon in a sustainable and appropriate manner, offering opportunities to leverage existing services and programmes in line with the views expressed by children and young people for creative service provision and creative programming.
The learning for our organisation
The key learning for our organisation and other organisations from the process and outcome (end result) of involving children and young people in this initiative
Working in partnership
The key learning for us was that a cohesive partnership incorporating cross-sectoral partners from educational, youth services and the cultural sector will be required for LCYP sustainability and effectiveness. The research highlighted many opportunities to maximise existing resources, infrastructure, and skills across the two counties in the design, development, and delivery of the LCYP. The partnership model will need to be flexible to allow for effective responses to the emerging needs of children and young people as the LCYP develops.
Inclusion of the voice of young people
Following the model of engaging a youth voice at project commencement through this research process, LO LCYP continued the inclusion of the voice of children and young people throughout the development and delivery of the LO LCYP an element central to the Partnership’s success. This way of working has enabled a new model of inclusive planning for services to support children and young people across Laois and Offaly.
The continued inclusion of the youth voice in the LCYP framework will be a pivotal factor in its overall success. Recommendations for embedding the youth voice into the LCYP development include:
Adhere to the National Participation Framework Checklist (based on the Lundy model) for the development of creative services and programmes for young people.
Continue engagement with children and young people via World Café events, surveys and focus groups as required will inform the development process
Link the Youth Leaders Programme with the LCYP development to increase visibility and include the voice of children and young people from the outset.
Looking back, how did the final outcome compare with our initial assumptions and those of other decision-makers involved in the process?
We appreciated from the outset how important the voices of children and young people would be in the initial development of the LCYP. However, as the research findings emerged it became clear that children’s and young people’s voices need to be included in all aspects of the LCYP, given that the partnership was established for children and young people themselves. Through this research, children and young people have revealed the depth of their understanding in relation to developmental planning to meet their needs. They have expressed their wishes and desires clearly and with passion. They have shown the extent to which they are already young leaders, competent to act as full citizens here and now and to continue to develop their leadership skills as they grow up.
What worked well?
The focus group element of the research worked well as it incorporated the voices of young people from a range of projects, creative groups and youth services. The level of engagement and clarity of expression within the focus groups was impressive, with significant insights into requirements for creative development locally expressed by many of the young people who participated. This was particularly evident from the focus groups held with the older groups from Youth Work Ireland Laois, Comhairle na nÓg and Mountmellick Family Resource Centre, where young leaders fully understood the local context for programme and service development and having considered responses towards driving change for young people in this regard.
As a result of the research carried out by the independent consultant, Laois Offaly Local Creative Youth Partnership was able to respond to the needs identified by children and young people. By the end of 2019, the result was 23 Creative Programmes were delivered each facilitated by qualified creative practitioners, delivered to over 720 Young People with a programme investment of €53,624.
If we were doing it again, is there anything we would do differently?
It was difficult in some scenarios for children and young people to broaden their horizons and experiences and to know what is available to them. We needed to provide options with supporting material and examples to show children and young people what could be available creatively and give visual examples and ideas.