Research sparks multi-agency conversation about youth participation
A Swansea University research project to better understand youth participation is bringing agencies across Swansea together next week, to discuss how policy development and service delivery can effectively meet the needs of young people.
Following the successful UR Community 2011 youth conference held at Pentrehafod School on July 19, a further conference for agencies which work with young people in Swansea will be held on Wednesday, October 5, at the Gorseinon Development Trust.
Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), this meeting, which will be chaired by Dr Anthony Charles of Swansea University’s Department for Criminal Justice and Criminology, will explore how agencies and service providers can use research to hear and respond to young people’s voices.
Drawing upon research undertaken for his doctoral thesis and the outcomes of the UR Community 2011 youth conference, Dr Charles will present to attendees data and recommendations to inform debate and assist the improvement of policy and services for young people in Swansea.
Those attending the conference include:
- Elected Members and Officers of the City and County of Swansea
- The Police
- Officers of the Swansea Youth Offending Team
- Swansea’s Youth Service
- Partnerships, e.g. the Swansea Substance Misuse Action Team
- Representatives of voluntary sector organisations, e.g. Swansea Council for Voluntary Service
- Youth related networks such as Children in Wales and Save the Children Cymru.
Explaining his aspirations for the conference Dr Charles, who is based within the University’s College of Business, Economics and Law, said: “Youth participation is a critical issue and has an impact on the quality of young people’s lives, their future potential and prosperity, and the ability of youth’s to play positive roles in their families, peer groups, and communities.
“I am delighted that officers and representatives from different sectors and agencies have agreed to come together to talk about how young people can effectively be listened to, and engaged in decision making. Also, this is an opportunity for us to collectively recognise the good work which is already taking place within Swansea.
“Young people feel passionately about their participation in decision making. The research which I undertook in Swansea demonstrated clearly that youths not only want to actively participate in decision making, but wish to play a full role in their communities, including the organisations and institutions which plan and provide services for them.
“Through my doctoral research and discussions which took place during the UR Community 2011 youth conference, a number of key messages have emerged which will be discussed at our multi-agency meeting. There is a great deal to discuss and I am pleased that Swansea University is playing a role in facilitating multi-agency co-operation on this important subject.”
Commenting on the significance of this conference, Eddie Isles, Manger of the Swansea Youth Offending Service and Chairman of the Swansea Substance Misuse Action Team said: “Recognising the importance of young people’s participation is crucial.
“At a Welsh level the Assembly has developed legislation to promote the fundamental rights which young people possess through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
“Here in Swansea we have been working for some time to recognise and mainstream young people’s rights. As a result many policies and practices have been amended.
“Dr Charles’ research gives us an opportunity to look again at what we are doing in Swansea and, on a cross-sectoral basis, consider what else we can do to improve the lives of the young people we serve, and ensure that they are able to access their right to participate in decision making.”