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The views and opinions of young people

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              The Saysomething Project

             An Independent Evaluation.




David Crimmens
Hull School of
Health & Social Care
December 2002
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Contents


The Saysomething Project.                             Page 3

The views and opinions of young people.               Page 4

Young people as members of the steering group:        Page 7
full partners or junior participants?

The agencies perspectives: partnership in action.     Page 9

The wider research and policy context.                Page 13

Measuring local progress against emerging national    Page 16
benchmarks.

Conclusions: there are more questions than answers.   Page 18

Recommendations for the further development of        Page 19
Saysomething.

References.                                           Page 20
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                        The Saysomething Project.

The Saysometing project was set up by the Information and Research Team
of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. This project

      was conceived…as a way of exploring the potential of the internet as a
      way of consulting young people, particularly rural young people, about
      the public services and quality of life issues that affect them.
      (Back, 2002, p.1)

The pilot phase of the project started in April 2001. The website,
www.Saysomething.org.uk went live in September 2001 and continued in its
original conception until the end of July 2002. After a „dormant‟ phase during
summer 2002 the website maintained its operations during Autumn 2002. the
current intention is to continue the project for at least a further year. The
majority of the funding for the pilot phase was received from the
government‟s „Invest to Save‟ budget. The opportunity presented by
substantial government funding enabled the project team to develop a multi-
agency approach, including young people from a local youth council. The
partnership was reflected in the composition of the Steering Group (see Back,
2002 p.47).

The Steering Group was committed from the outset to an independent
evaluation of the project. Unfortunately the person awarded the contract to
carry out the evaluation died before he was able to complete a report. The
Hull School, of Health & Social care, University of Lincoln, was commissioned
to carry out the evaluation in summer 2002. At this stage the activities of the
pilot stage were effectively completed. The original project coordinator had
moved on to other employment and the Steering Group was no longer
meeting. The evaluation is therefore retrospective and missed the opportunity
to gather more contemporaneous information as the project unfolded.
Fieldwork was carried out during autumn 2002, using a semi-structured
questionnaire and group discussions. All individual interviews were tape
recorded and transcribed verbatim to represent the views and opinions of
stakeholders in their own words. It is important to emphasise that when
looking back at events, there may be a tendency to reflect more on the
weaknesses of the project rather than the strengths. A contemporary
evaluation could have produced more material on the excitement and
challenges involved in negotiating the pitfalls in an innovative and unique
approach to consulting with young people. Back (2002) provides a wealth of
detail about the development of the project. He emphasises that
Saysomething was a pilot and needed to be honest about its mistakes

      about the places where we failed and the lessons we learned so
      that others following this path can benefit from our experience and
      avoid repeating history. (p.1)
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                The views and opinions of young people.

Interviews were carried out during October and November 2002 with young
people from Beverley Youth Council who were members of the Steering
Group and visits to three youth centres in different parts of the County.

The success of Saysomething emerges from initial use in school where the
technology is available and where young people were encouraged to access
the site as part of a lesson. Those who have a PC at home linked to the
internet may or may not access the site in their own time out of school.

Many young people do not have access to the web outside school. Youth
centres visited all had a range of IT equipment. Only one machine in one
centre was linked to the web. That machine was strictly speaking for the use
of staff, but was used under supervision by a group of young people to visit
the site.

The experience of a group 14 and 15 years old girls, highlights some of the
difficulties. They reflected on a visit one evening in April 2002 and their
attempts with the help of an IT skilled youth worker to complete one of the
questionnaires on „shopping‟. They had heard about the site from the radio
promotion and were attracted by the potential of winning a prize.

They found the process of completing the questionnaire very slow, which is
hardly surprising given the fact that they were sharing one machine. However
a „technical problem‟ resulted in their contribution not being registered. The
youth worker told them that their work would have had to be inputted again
„so they didn‟t bother‟. The young people commented that the material on the
questionnaire was boring and too hard, with too many „big words‟. They also
felt it took too long to access the site and download the material.

It is interesting to reflect that all 5 members of this group report that they
have internet access at home. None have tried to access the Saysomething
site since their last visit in April.

       „I heard about it on the radio, on Viking it‟s a really good radio and it
       sounded really good but when it came to it, it was really boring.‟

A visit to another youth club produced nobody who acknowledged that they
had actually visited the site. A number of young people knew friends who had
been into Saysomething at school. One young man had a friend who had won
a prize and said he intended to visit the site. At the time a small group of 15
and 16 years old boys were using PC‟s as part of an activity involving making
music, suggesting that they were both technically competent and motivated.
This youth club had invested in IT technology and there were at least 10 PC‟s
which were accessible to the members. A range of telephone points were also
evident suggesting that they were specifically installed to facilitate access the
Internet and email. However at the time of the visit there was no connection
                                                                               5
between the PC‟s and the wall sockets. Youth workers were unclear about
whether the lack of a live link was a result of outstanding technical problems,
heath and safety issues or a financial problem about which budget would pay
for the internet use.

This youth club had been visited recently by a member of the Saysomething
team. There was evidence of the publicity and promotion material on the
walls of the club. The stickers were seen as „cool‟ as evidenced by the fact
that a 16-year-old young man was wearing one on his „hoody‟. There was
clearly a commitment by the staff team to use new technology for both
educational and recreational purposes and there was expertise among both
staff and young people. However there remains an access problem, which
requires resolution before the „street credibility‟ of the Saysomething web site
can be effectively road tested among the membership of the youth club.

A more formal discussion with a group of 5 friends, 3 boys and 2 girls aged
15 and 15 years illustrates some of the strengths and weaknesses to the
„Saysomething‟ approach. This group, recruited by a member of one of the
locality youth councils from among her Duke of Edinburgh group, all have a
PC with internet access at home, spend up to 25 hours each week using a PC
including 3 hours in school, and use the internet to research school
assignments as well as to pursue more recreational interests. They heard
about the Saysomething web site on Viking Radio or from their peers. Their
interest was reinforced by an input into a recent assembly at the school by a
member of the Saysomething team [who they were able to mention by
name]. Their interest was also reinforced by the fact that one of the group
„won‟ a £10 voucher on her first visit to the site.

What do the young people like about the website? [not in any particular order
of priority]

    The monthly surveys

    Daily poll

    Prizes – CD player, mobile phone and goody bags mentioned.

    Picture of people who have won prizes – especially when they are
     people you know

    Free merchandise

    To be able to put your views forward

    Easy to navigate
                                                                         6
Young people‟s suggested changes/improvements to website:

    Visually boring – the young people suggested flashing pictures, sound,
     changes of colour, music links, and access to ring tones would improve
     the visual imagery.
   
    Achat room (with moderators)

    Young people should be more involved

    Interviews with nice famous people

    More personal responses to email

    Change the name because there is another saysomething.org

    Music in the background

    Links to information for young people who want help eg childline

    Youth information eg purchasing music ticket
                                                                              7
           Young people as members of the steering group:
                 full partners or junior participants?

Members of the Beverley Youth Council who were invited to become members
of the Steering Group of the Saysomething project provide mixed feedback on
both their experiences of the web site and of their membership of the
Steering Group.

They saw their involvement initially as a good idea and something that
needed doing. They were very positive about their initial experiences of
selecting the web providers and the incorporation of their ideas into the
design of the web site. They were not active advocates of the website by the
time they were interviewed in October 2002. This factor was evident in
responses to questions about whether they discussed the website with their
friends. They were supportive of the way in which publicity was handled
initially though thought that there should be more investment in going into
schools to promote the web site. They were concerned about how far young
people had access to the internet and whether there should have been other
strategies used to consult with a wider range of young people.

Strong opinions were voiced about what was described as a „one track‟ use of
the questionnaire. While the young people expressed a view that their
opinions had been taken into account in planning and designing the website
they were concerned about the lack of consultation over the surveys. They
suggested that individual agency concerns about their specific surveys tended
to dominate meetings of the Steering Group and that their views were not
taken into account in relation to, for example, the content of specific surveys,
with the exception of the survey on the Youth Council which they constructed
themselves.

A major issue for one member was about how agendas were set for the
Steering Group meeting, and the way in which the agenda then dominated
the meeting. One consequence of this was the view that the meetings
became very much about the individual agency interests and moved away
from the issues of effectively consulting young people, raising a question
about the purpose of having young people, as members of the group: „it
became a case of the young people, were there for the sake of saying the
young people were there.‟ This comment is in marked contrast to the
consensus of opinion from the adult members of the Steering Group that the
young people were always listened to and actively participated in the Steering
Group meetings. One problem could be summed up by another comment
from a young person that „It‟s fine to listen but not do anything about it which
is just the same as not listening I guess.‟ It would be surprising in a pilot
project of this nature if the views of adult and young people participants
coincided. This is particularly true in a situation where the Steering Group
meetings appear to have been conducted a conventional business meetings
with little if any opportunity to explore the issues around the experiences of
the young people‟s participation the group. A more contemporaneous
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evaluation throughout the lifespan of the Steering Group, may have produced
a spectrum of views rather than an impression from at least one of the young
participants who saw himself as „window dressing.‟

The young people saw money as an important issue, which divided them from
the apparent consensus of adult opinion. They were aware that different
agencies had invested money in the project and that this appeared to give
them a greater say. The young people had lots to say about different ways in
which money could have been spent, both in promoting the web site and in
involving larger numbers of young people in the consultation.

      „We‟ve never seen £100, 000 being put into a project before whereas
      these people have seen it all the time and it isn‟t their money and it‟s
      like their business and it‟s already been assigned to it and they haven‟t
      thought well what other way can we do it. Well I could go out myself
      and save many thousand pounds.‟

There is a dual message in this quotation, which should not be ignored. The
young people had a keen sense of what might have been achieved for this
level of financial investment and considered that the ideas they put forward
were not taken up, but also that the planning tasks had not been sufficiently
evaluated before activating the project particularly in relation to what was not
likely to be achieved by dependence on one form of consultation:

      „I think they thought well you know we‟ll keep up with the times and
      we‟ll go for internet access because it‟s good and they hadn‟t thought
      of the drawbacks and everything.‟
                                                                                9
           The agencies perspectives: partnership in action.

Representatives of the agencies participating in the pilot project were
interviewed in person or by telephone during September and October 2002.
An overall level of satisfaction was expressed with the outcomes of the
project, particularly in relation to:

      Networking potential of the Steering Group
      Involvement in an innovatory project
      The opportunity to contribute towards the youth participation agenda
      The usefulness of the information and feedback from young people

The views and opinions of the adult stakeholders were collected
retrospectively and individuals were invited to reflect on an experience, which
was effectively in the past. Although the web site remained live after July
2002 the Steering Group did not continue to meet during the period in which
the Saysomething team was working to secure a further year of activity and
funding to enable the web site to continue. The distance between the final
meeting of the Steering Group and the evaluation interview enabled each
partner to reflect on what aspects of the pilot worked well for them and what
aspects could have worked better. The following commentary therefore
provides an agenda for change in relation to future activity.

Agency representatives were clear about what the project had achieved for
them:

       „I think that any level of involvement with young people that wasn‟t
       there before in a democracy has got to be welcomed as a good
       idea.‟

       „We were keen to find a way of engaging potentially disadvantaged
       young people in East Riding‟

       „I guess it can have a greater reach potentially than any other single
       method.‟

       „We‟ve gained a lot from working with young people in the group.
       You gain contacts and colleagues in other agencies as well, so it‟s not
       just about the project itself, it‟s about what you can gain from meeting
       other people involved in those areas.‟

       „It‟s a sort of gut feeling that we‟ve achieved what we set out to
       achieve ie we‟ve got access from young people in rural communities
       who would otherwise have difficulty in accessing information and them
       having a voice.‟
                                                                             10
      [value for money] we did put a questionnaire on the site about
      [agency] so I guess for £X it was worth it. …. I‟m not sure how much it
      would cost us to get that number of responses through other means.‟

However, much of the positive feedback was delivered with important
reservations. In relation to the ‟gut feeling‟ concern was expressed that the
„hard‟ evidence of the levels of engagement with the target population,
namely isolated and socially excluded rural youth did not really emerge from
the available data:

      „but I don‟t think we‟ve really measured that properly so we haven‟t
      got an objective measure of success‟

Reservations were expressed about missed opportunities, which may have
been possible from using the Steering Group more strategically:

      „It was a big project taken on by a small group and partners who were
      already committed in their own spheres of work, perhaps didn‟t have
      the opportunity to put in as much as we might have hoped for, to
      support it in the context of giving that little bit extra.‟

      [the Steering Group] only really met at the meetings, there wasn‟t
      anything beyond that. You sort of listened to the reports that were
      coming back.

The evidence suggests that members of the Project Team were expected to
get on with running the website on a day to day basis and marketing and
promoting the site:

      „We weren‟t as members of the Steering Group particularly expected to
      go out and market [the web site] amongst our own constituencies.

There was no apparent sense of criticism in these observations but more a
retrospective awareness of the narrow focus of the Steering Group‟s agenda.
The adult feedback reflects comments by the young members of the Steering
Group that the content of the meetings focussed on technical issues. There
was a sense of missed opportunity to address process in relation to the role
of the Steering Group. Two issues were emphasised; the marketing and
promoting of the web site but more importantly furthering the youth
consultation and participation agenda locally.

      „There was a lot of talk at the beginning about getting more young
      people and taking the marketing and the images of the site to youth
      clubs and things like that, to get an opinion outside the Youth Council.
      That never really happened.‟
                                                                            11
      „We should have done more in terms of youth contact, wider range
      [of young people]‟

      „It was schools oriented and maybe youth clubs played a part…I‟m not
      sure that we reached everything so I‟ve got to say we only went so far.

Some concern was expressed that other departments of the local authority
could have made use of the Project

      „It needed a push within the council itself with other departments and
      directorates to use it because it could be a useful tool if any
      department wanted to get opinions from young people.

      „I tend to think that a lot of the other departments in the council
      perhaps didn‟t know we were there or didn‟t want to get someone
      involved.‟

There was some concern about the use of local radio to promote the project

      „I think that the initial thinking was that the radio campaign, which was
      very expensive would be the key thing and they‟d all be flocking in
      their droves and it didn‟t happen. I think personally that the radio
      campaign was a waste of money. It was not as successful as we
      thought it could have been.‟

The Project Report (Back, 2002) acknowledges that there were „doubts about
the cost-effectiveness of the radio campaign.‟ (p.4. s12) There is some
evidence from young people who contributed to this evaluation and who have
visited the site that hearing the promotion on Viking Radio may have
established the brand name in their minds. The question about whether it led
young people to actively make use of the site is more controversial as
evidenced by the following comment:

      „Although the evaluation questionnaire indicated that many of the
      young people who used the site heard about it initially on Viking radio
      this may not have been the major reason why they logged on.
      They logged on because a lot of the time they did it in school so they
      had to. The teacher said we‟re doing IT, but they were then going
      home and in the evening spending time filling in the questionnaires.‟

The reliance on schools to promote the website is acknowledged in the
Project Report. It was also recognised as a limitation on the potential of the
project among some members of the Steering Group, one of who commented
that „schools were kind of a captive audience‟. It is difficult to determine how
far use went beyond schools and those who followed up initial visits to the
website at school with a visit at home. There does not appear to be an
analysis of postal addresses, which could facilitate mapping use across the
County to demonstrate that the Project was reaching at least more
                                                                             12
geographically isolated young people. There is some evidence of a pattern of
use between schools with high levels of access to the website during school
hours being followed up by additional log ons in the evening in the
geographical areas served by those schools. „I think it has worked to a large
degree to a minority audience‟ demonstrates the difficulties in building up a
critical mass of young users necessary to justify the continued existence of
the project. The schools base has provided a foundation for developing a
constituency of young people, who can be mobilised in future consultations
and which did not exist prior to the launching of Saysomething.

All adult stakeholders were enthusiastic about the possibility of the project
continuing for a further year and wanted their agency to continue to be
involved. They did however recognise that the pilot had demonstrated some
limits to the approach as well as demonstrating its potential.

      „It‟s perhaps something that should be a tool in our armoury, it‟s
      something which you should have amongst a number of other
      approaches, including traditional pen and paper questionnaires.‟

Two major challenges for future development were articulated. The first
relates to how far a web site can interact with its users, becoming a more
dynamic instrument for engaging with young people:

      „I would like to see a bit more of a two-way thing, and at the moment
      its very much young people filling in a questionnaire and then that‟s it.
      They get the results posted back on the website, 6% of you said this
      or whatever, but there‟s no real sort of reply as such. There isn‟t a
      two-way conversation.‟

The second challenge requires evidence of the impact of the data gathered on
the policy formation and service delivery processes of the partner agencies. It
centres on the key question of:

      what are you doing with the data?

There is a need to revisit the objectives of the Saysomething Project to more
finely tune the outcomes in relation to the engagement with young people.
More specific outcomes should provide evidence, which addresses the
following concern:

      But what have you actually done, how many concrete changes can you
      hold your hand up and say directly as a result of the web site we
      have now done this and this that the kids can actually go and see…
      what are we actually doing with this data?
                                                                           13
                 The wider research and policy context.


      „ Providing meaningful opportunities for young people to be involved in
      shaping local government services will take time, resources and
      commitment. Involving young people may mean taking risks and
      making mistakes is part of the process of getting it right.‟ (JRF, 2002)

Recent research (Combe 2002) by the Institute for Public Policy Research in
partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA), identifies four
crucial stages in developing initiatives to involve young people:

   1. Creating the right environment - getting the right structures, systems
      and resources in place from the outset
   2. Planning
   3. Doing
   4. Follow – up: to be effective councils need to follow through on their
      commitment to young people by ensuring the involvement exercises
      have an impact on services and on practice.

Evidence from this evaluation suggests that insufficient attention was paid to
the first stage and planning focused on identifying the best technical means
to deliver the Saysomething project with less attention being paid to the
processes by which the different agencies involved in the steering group
would conduct their business. An unequivocal commitment by the members
of the steering group to the involvement of young people was therefore
undermined by the lack of attention to questions of how young people were
going to be involved. The local authority has a clear and explicit commitment
to involving its customers in the democratic processes of the council:

      „East Riding of Yorkshire Council is committed to Consultation and
      participation “To place customers first in everything we do, encourage
      increased public participation through the electoral and management
      processes and communicate and consult with all who live, work and
      have an interest in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”

There is an existing statutory framework for consultation with children „in
need‟ in the Children Act 1989. This commitment is strengthened in Quality
Protects where Objective 8.0 aims „To actively involve carers and service
users in planning services.‟ and sub-objective 8.1: „To demonstrate that the
views of children and families are actively sought and used in the planning,
delivery and review of services.‟

A report by the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS, 2002) sets
out a vision for future services for children, emphasising that this must
include greater involvement by children in the planning and delivery of
services and that their views must be ascertained at the outset of the
planning cycle (p.19). They go a step further in arguing that „children and
                                                                                14
young people must be enabled to participate in the formulation of ideas‟. The
ADSS emphasise that any vision must be framed by major statements of
values which are explicit in the national objectives of government and the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, where Article 12
provides a international framework for the participation of children and young
people in stating that:

       States parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or
       her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters
       affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in
       accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

A partnership between the LGA and the National Youth Agency (NYA) has
produced a set of standards (Wade et al, 2001) for the active involvement of
young people in local democracy, built around key principles for good
practice. These principles provide a framework for enabling the active
involvement of young people to work best when:

      The diversity of young people is recognised
      Young people are valued
      Involvement is underpinned by adequate resources of expertise, time,
       money and organisational systems and processes
      There are systems and processes for reviewing, evaluating and
       continuously improving young people‟s involvement

In the foreword to the standards, Sir Jeremy Beecham, Chair of the LGA, links
the involvement of young people with the improvement of service delivery
and the reinvigoration of local democracy. He stresses that the standards „are
not then end of a process but the beginning of one‟;

       „I commend these standards to you as a framework to help you think
       about what you currently do to engage children and young people and
       about what you can do in the future to ensure that children and young
       people are seen and heard‟ (p.v)

George Simpson, a local government officer on secondment to Government
Office for Yorkshire and Humberside to develop methods for involving young
people, particularly in the Connexions strategies establishes a ‟Framework for
taking young people‟s involvement forward‟ (2002). He identifies a range of
factors which need to be on the agenda of any organisation developing youth
involvement including:

      Establishing an effective culture
      Ensuring appropriate practice
      A range of engagement

He maintains that „existing structures for children and young people‟s
involvement are often limited by their reflection of adult activity‟. Simpson
                                                                            15
emphasises that young people‟s involvement should be seen as „A process
more than an outcome‟ echoing a Quality Protects publication from the
Department of Health (2000)

      Participation is a process; children will only be able to participate
      actively in a climate that encourages their on-going involvement and
      empowerment
      [DoH, 2000]

Simpson suggests that most models of engaging with young people are linear
(Arnstein, 1969; Hart, 1992). Linear models tend to assume that adult
engagement with young people may not get beyond the level of tokenism and
as such does not enable young people to participate effectively because it
does not address issues of power differences between adults and young
people. Simpson offers a model of progress based on mutual learning:

      progress for adults and children and young people is rarely linear,
      more usually taking the form of a series of repetitive learning cycles
      based on a wave formation, with positive phases of activity, periods of
      challenge and difficulty, backward movement for periods of rebuilding
      and relearning and periods of inactivity. The model affirms that all the
      stages as positive, recognising that there will be periods of difficulty,
      but that these are positive and lead to important points of learning. It
      encourages questioning and challenge as healthy components of the
      learning process.
                                                                            16
  Measuring local progress against emerging national benchmarks.

There are clearly many initiatives focussing on the involvement of young
people taking place in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Some of these are
detailed in the „Youth Newsletter‟ (ERYC, June 2002). These include

      A Young People‟s Policy, which was consulted on during summer 2002.
      A dedicated post to meet the Quality Protects objectives in relation to
       the participation of children in need particularly children who are
       looked after by the local authority
      The contribution of young people living in the East Riding to the
       development of the youth governance initiative at the core of the local
       Connexions strategy

Consultation has been widespread but…

       „What has been absent have been a coordinated approach and a
       mechanism to share information acquired as a result of consultation.‟
       (Youth Newsletter, p.4.)

The absence of coordination and mechanisms for joining up the activities of
the Saysomething Project have reduced the potential impact of the project
and its contribution towards furthering the youth engagement process in the
East Riding. Apart from the Information & Research Team who have
developed Saysomething, evidence suggests that the only other departments
involved in promoting the engagement agenda are Social Services with its
statutory obligations and Community Education, which has responsibility for
youth provision across the County. There is an absence of clear evidence of a
participatory strategy for young people, which is endorsed by political
members and is at the heart of all activities of the local authority. The
evidence of departmentalism suggests a tendency towards marginalisation or
ghettoisation of the Councils commitment to youth participation. It may
become pigeon holed, for example, within discrete children and young people
serving departments, defined as part of the Citizenship curriculum, and devoid
of any political content in any active sense.

The absence of both joined-up thinking and the consequent joined-up activity
is evident in the application of New Technology across the local authority in
areas directly related to children and young people. There has been
significant expenditure on both PC‟s with the capability of accessing the
Internet and using email in both Youth Centres and Children‟s Homes, the
latter paid for out of the Saysomething budget. The continuing difficulties in
linking up these IT sources exemplifies one of the difficulties of providing
access to children and young people as part of a social inclusion strategy.
Reasons given for delays include lack of a current budget, technical feasibility
and issues concerning the safety of young service users, including child
protection. These delaying factors are both relevant and important. They
have had an adverse impact on the capacity of the Saysomething Project to
                                                                                17
reach a wider sector of its target population during the pilot project. They are
likely to impede and restrict the continuing development of the project, as the
absence of a firm date for full implementation of existing commitments may
well drift into the next financial year. They are one reflection of the inability of
the local authority to knit everything together and are symptomatic of the
absence of an overall corporate strategy for youth involvement.
                                                                              18
         Conclusions: there are more questions than answers

Three key issues emerge from this evaluation, which need to be addressed to
improve the quality and quantity of future engagement between young
people and the project.

    Access: how far do young people have access to a PC with internet
     connection at home and in school? More importantly, what access do
     young people have in their leisure time when positive peer group
     influence could encourage more extensive use of the Saysomething
     web site?
    Competence: do young people have the skills and confidence to
     access the Saysomething website? What is the role of professional
     workers like Youth Workers, Connexions Personal Advisors and
     residential child care workers in facilitating the development of the
     skills and confidence needed to make effective use of a consultative
     instrument like the Saysomething website, especially among those
     groups of young people who are a particular targets of the Social
     Inclusion agenda?
    Motivation: what strategies are needed to encourage young people
     to make more extensive use of the Saysomething website? Is it
     sufficiently young person-centred given that the agenda in the pilot
     phase may have concentrated on technical issues and meeting the
     needs of adult stakeholders.

There are strong statements in the Project Report (Back, 2002) about the
importance of the youth engagement agenda. The introduction to the report
states that „[young people] are no longer tomorrows citizens; they have a
right to be taken seriously today‟ is in marked contrast to the comment that
„the practicalities of this meant that it was difficult to look beyond the
Beverley Youth Council and widen participation geographically.‟(p.5 para 20.)
There remains a question about whether Saysomething represents a small
number of local authority officers and other adults as members of the
Steering Group, championing the cause of young people‟s participation, when
what is required is a manifest commitment on the part of the political
leadership of the local authority. Evidence from the research cited in this
report indicates that young people will invest in activities where they feel their
views are being taken seriously. Adults have to establish credibility as a first
step in engaging with young people, and this requires adults to move beyond
the rhetoric of involvement and participation.
                                                                        19

Recommendations for the further development of Saysomething.


   Develop a commitment to a corporate strategy. Involve other
    departments of the Council in the Steering Group. Identify other
    „champions‟ who will further the cause in their own departments.

   Establish a broader purpose for the steering group, which can engage
    with the inter-agency issues as well as the youth participation agenda.

   Move beyond technical questions and develop an interactive dialogue
    between adults and young people involved in the next phase.

   Try a different mechanism for involving young people in the
    management and development of the Project. See what the young
    people themselves can suggest. A parallel young peoples steering
    group, appropriately funded and supported?

   Develop a broad constituency of young people, who will act as brokers
    and advocates for the project.

   Establish monitoring panels of young users who agree to log their use
    of the website in order to gather accurate information on the spread of
    activity among different target populations.

   Develop a commitment by both adults and young people involved in
    the management of the project to actively promote the SaySomething
    Project. Use face-to-face contact to distribute the promotional
    merchandise, particularly the 'stickers.‟ Additional investment is
    required to reach beyond 'captive populations' in schools. Target places
    where young people meet less formally for hands on promotions.

   Avoid the assumption that there are marketing experts, which can be
    hired to promote the project. Make more active use of existing youth
    networks to promote the use of the website.

   Avoid overselling the outcomes of the project. Provide hard evidence of
    the capability of the project to reach geographically and socially
    isolated young people.
                                                                              20
                                 References.


Arnstein S. (1969) A ladder of Citizen Participation. Journal of the American
Institute of planners. Vol. 35 no. 4. 216–224.

Association of Directors of Social Services (2002) Tomorrow‟s Children. A
discussion paper on UK child care services in the coming decade. September.

Back P. (2002) Young People Talking…Public Services Listening. East Riding of
Yorkshire Council. September.

Combe V. (2002) Up for it: Getting young people involved in local
government. Leicester. National Youth Agency.

Department of Health (2000) Quality Protects Research Briefing. No. 3.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2002) Youth Provision in the East Riding.
Community Education Service. Volume 1. Issue 2. June.

Hart R. (1992) Children‟s Participation, from Tokenism to Citizenship.
Florence. UNICEF.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2002) Involving young people in local authority
decision-making. Findings. June.

Simpson G. (2002) Involving Young People. A Discussion Paper for
Connexions South Yorkshire, Connexions Partners and Young People. First
Draft. 21st November.

Wade H. Lawton A. & Stevenson M. (2001) „hear by right‟ setting standards
for the active involvement of young people in local democracy. Local
Government Association/National Youth Agency.

				
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