Helping Young People Speak Out

‘My Voice’ engagement with children and young people in Aberdeenshire has recently been commended by the Care Inspectorate in Scotland. Why was this the case and why did the involvement of young people in the design and development of the method of engagement make such a difference?

In 2015, following an Inspection by the Care Inspectorate, Aberdeenshire Children’s Services received particularl praise for the way it involved young people in the design and implementation of an engagement system, and the way the solution now allows the young person to personalise and individualise their own space for engaging with their particular social worker.

As noted in the Inspectorate’s report on Children’s Services in Aberdeenshire:

“….. young people have been actively involved in the procurement and design processes. In addition to this, one of the project team employed full-time in the ICT Team at Aberdeenshire Council to work on getting the right system in place is a young person who was previously looked after.

“Young people were invited to participate in a scoping exercise of the available systems on the market and to explore the technology available to enhance the quality of partners’ engagement with them. They were supported to do this by social workers, residential staff, the Children’s Rights Service, members of the council’s ICT team and the business systems officer for Children’s Services.
“As a result of the feedback provided by the children and young people involved, it was concluded that a new system would be commissioned, involving young people in its selection and design.

“Young people had a pivotal role in selecting the business that has been developing the Together Aberdeenshire platform, of which My Voice is an important component. They contributed to the design of My Voice as a tool that can be used offline on dedicated tablets available in each office, or used online by young people wishing to use it more independently.

“Young people designed the product to have customisable profile pages, animation and age-appropriate graphics such as the use of emoticons, and two sets of core questions. These question sets were streamlined to cut out some of the repetition that children and young people had said they found tiresome in previous systems.

“The resulting product is considered by users to be enticing, flexible and adaptable for future continuous improvement initiatives.”

And as the Inspectorate goes on to explain, the real benefit to the young person was that their views were being taken seriously and clearly influencing decisions.

“In addition to the feedback they received about the system, the young people involved in the development of My Voice were able to benefit from being very positively involved in a range of business processes. They were able to experience shared responsibility for a continuum of service development within which their own contributions were highly valued and integrated. They could see their ideas being translated into the reality of a business product. They gained confidence and selfesteem through being partners in the design team and seeing the success of the choices and design changes made directly by them.”

The roll-out of My Voice is ongoing across Aberdeenshire.

Sam McNeil, who led the project for My Voice at Aberdeenshire Council, says of the platform.

“The project has been a positive experience and very much a collective effort. With the support of developers at People Matters Network we have been able to integrate the ideas and designs from service users and practitioners to ensure we have a system that is both flexible and adaptable to meet the evolving requirements of Children’s Services in Aberdeenshire. This has resulted in a positive user experience for gathering the views of children and young people receiving a service”

And here is a view typically held by social workers who now regularly use the platform to engage with young people.

“In my view, the system is really easy to use and allows the child involved independence, and ‘a voice’ to express their views. I look forward to using My Voice on the tablet in future – less bulk for me also!”

– Jenni Fotheringham, Local Area Coordinator

You can view this article and others here

For further information on the Together engagement platform and ‘My Voice’ engagements with young people, contact Jonathan at PMNet.

Jonathan.bostock@peoplemattersnetwork.com

Tel:  0121 410 5520 

www.peoplemattersnetwork.com

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