Agenda item

Participation of Children and Young people

The Head of Strategic Services and the Participation Officer will provide a presentation to the Board.


The Chair welcomed the Head of Strategic Services and Participation officer to the meeting.


The Head of Strategic Services outlined that the participation work-stream has been a victim of Covid, as the suspension of physical meetings has had an effect on participation of children and young people nationally. Covid has affected how the Council has been able to progress the voice and influence and strategic planning. Children and young people have been involved in the past year with virtual learning so there was a degree of screen fatigue and therefore trying to engage outside school virtually has been difficult at times.


To conquer this, the team have redesigned the Participation Strategy, with the focus on recovery. To assist with this, the Head of Services had used vacant positions to resource a company called Participation People, who will work with the Council to deliver a year Participation Service for children and young people in Middlesbrough.

Participation People deliver award-winning youth voice development & evaluation projects and training, with public and charity organisations across the UK. They have worked with/are continuing to work with other local authorities including Birmingham, Greenwich and Dorset and the Participation People contributed to achieving the highest election turnout in a seven year history of the Young Mayor scheme, standing at 73% of young people voting in the London Borough of Newham Council.


The Team have developed a road map and this will be delivered to the Participation and Communication Board, which will outline the key pieces of work to be undertaken.


Some of the work which Participation People will be involved in is as follows:

·         Over the next 6 months, the will be working on a campaign to support our understanding of identity of young people and families in our town to improve the way the Council support them. Looking at “what makes me”, which was highlighted in the Ofsted Inspection report.

·         There will be a focus on youth participation and engagement events that will be ran over the next 12 months for Middlesbrough Youth Participation champions and Corporate Parents.

·         Re-design the engagement strategy to support how we can engage young people after lockdown.

·         Strengthen the involvement of SEND children and young people and hard to reach group in all participation activities.


In terms of good news stories, the Head of Strategic Services advised the following:


·         One of the Care Leavers, Xavier started his apprenticeship with Middlesbrough Council as the new Youth Training Development Officer.

·         2 of our young people from the Care Leavers Forum have been asked to join the Middlesbrough Family Placement Panel.

·         Working closely with the SEN team to start developing a new SEN focus group for young people.

·         The Participation Team are working with the Task and Finish group for NEET/Care leavers in order to make opportunities more available to our young people.

·         Our young people did a great job attending the briefing for ‘Your Voice and Influence’ as part of ‘Our Middlesbrough Family Week’. They had lots of comments about how well they spoke.

·         There was now and award dedicated to Middlesbrough Children Matter in the Civic Community Awards 2021.


The Head of Strategic Services brought the Participation Officer in to provide information to the Board on the participation groups (Children in Care Council (CICC) and Mini Children in Care Council (Mini CICC).


He advised the Board of the following:

      There has been difficulty holding these groups due to Covid, however the first virtually meeting took place with 5 young people which was fun.

      Number are improving but they are waiting for face to face meeting and they are excited for this.

      Young carers have also shown interest in the Care leavers forum, but again they are waiting for the forum to be held face t face before they commit.

      Regardless of this, the Participation officer outlined that there has been ore engagement from Young People in both groups through weekly phone calls and the Pathways Team have been working closely with the Participation Team to introduce care leavers to the forum.

      Some of our young people from both groups met with Ofsted during the inspection.

      More engagement from Social Workers and IROs passing on young people who may be interested in joining our groups.


Next Steps for CICC and Mini CICC

1.    Continue to increase engagement working with others across Children Services who can refer young people

2.    Start planning for our first face to face meeting

3.    Agree on workshops that will take place once lockdown has finished

4.    Start focusing on how we will make a difference across Children’s Services by using the groups voice


Next steps for Care Leavers Forum

  1. Continue to engage with new members who are interested in joining the forum.
  2. Put together a proposal of events for Care Leavers Week
  3. Plan how we want the group to run after lockdown


Following the Presentation, a Board member queried how many young people were involved in the participation groups. In response, the following information was provided:

·         Youth Council- between 10 and 20 members

·         Mini CICC- 5- 6 young people

·         Care Leavers forum- 5 members with 3 consistent members.


The Participation officer outlined that the youngest young person they speak to is 8 years old and eldest was 24.


Outside the groups, the Team have been engaging with young people, through surveys in the schools. A Board member asked whether there were comparators e.g 5 children out of how many children looked after and also the questions asked in the questionnaires. The Head of Strategic Services outlined that this would be circulated to members.


A Board member also outlined that we should celebrate that young people are joining but we should look at different ways of how we can make the groups more appealing. However the groups made up a small part of the participation that was taking place.


In terms of apprenticeships, the Chair queried whether the Council kept in touch with our care leavers who hold apprenticeships and whether there was a possibility to offer more to care leavers.


The Participation Officer advised that there is a task and force group so we are aware of job opportunities and ensure these go out through the text and email service. The Head of Looked after Children and Corporate Parenting also advised that the group meet monthly to review all care leavers who are NETT and this is done in participation with virtual schools, community learning and youth offending service and additional partners. They group look at opportunities as well as apprenticeships.

In terms of social media, the team would be working with Participation People to find out what means/apps of communication they use and this will be rolled out with Middlesbrough young people.

The Care leavers forum have a whatsapp group, and the Voice of the Child have looked at setting up a social media plan e.g. facebook, twitter etc.



1.    That the information be noted

2.    That comparative numbers relating to CICC, Mini CICC and Care leavers be circulated to the Board.


Supporting documents: