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Case study: Children and Young People workforce project

What was the project?

Between April 2021 and 2022, Mind’s Physical Activity team launched a Children and Young People coaching workforce project. We gave a steering group of young people the opportunity to share their stories and create resources aimed at anyone working or volunteering across the physical activity sector.

Who was involved?

We recruited a steering group of twelve young people with lived experience of mental health problems through the Youth Voice Network. Across the co-production project, the young people:

  • Fed into the project aims and objectives
  • Developed survey questions for the sports sector
  • Wrote guidance for coaches in the form of a Top Tips infographic
  • Designed a pocket-sized handbook resource for coaches
  • Reviewed our new webpage and all resource designs.

We also provided opportunities for young people to share their stories, as shown in our ‘Supporting young people’s wellbeing during physical activity’ film.

The steering group also planned the content for our webinar, where we launched our new resources and highlighted the importance of co-production. A young person co-hosted the webinar, and four others shared learnings from the project.

“The whole experience felt very empowering and it meant a lot to feel that our voices were being heard and listened to. I felt that the personal experiences I shared were valued which made me more comfortable speaking and working with everyone. It was great to be a part of and to have the opportunity to develop new skills and build my confidence.”

What did you learn?

Our steering group meetings took place over Zoom. We split into breakout rooms so that we could dig deeper into certain questions and topics. We used Google Jamboard to capture insights. Young people added post-it notes throughout the session to capture ideas and rank/order certain responses. This meant that the whole group could anonymously contribute suggestions. Plus it provided a handy record of ideas generated during the meetings.

We wanted young people to be at the heart of the co-production process. We shared drafts of our film, handbook and graphics with them, so that they could input into the wording, content and designs. When reviewing, it was easiest for them to comment directly onto the documents, providing feedback via email.

“It was a great opportunity meet like-minded people and share our experiences. I was made to feel so welcome.”

How did involvement benefit the project?

We created a handbook to support coaches to better support young people during a physical activity session. The young people involved in the project were excellent at providing specific suggestions on wording to make the resource more user friendly and relevant.

The lived experience film is also incredibly powerful. We will be using social media to raise awareness of the resources. Moreover, we want to work with partners to embed the video into training courses for coaches, so that sector can be upskilled around how to support a young person who might be experiencing a mental health problem.

How did the activity benefit those involved?

Many of the young people commented on how empowering the experience was. They valued drawing on their lived experience to changes the lives of others.

The young people developed several skills, including:

  • Presentation skills – a young person co-hosted our webinar for the sports sector, which had 250+ sign-ups. Four other young people offered insights and were involved in the planning of the session.
  • Public speaking – Three of the young people shared their stories in our lived experience film. We specifically chose a young videographer. He was great at explaining different shots and involving them in the whole process, which they really enjoyed (especially as a couple of them want to go into filmmaking/ journalism).
  • Resource development experience – Young people shaped the resources during sessions and reviewed content & designs outside of meetings. We ensured that during our final Zoom session we showed them all the finished products so that they could celebrate their contributions.

One participant noted the confidence that the project had given them:

“I would like to thank you so much for the amazing opportunities this project has given me. It would not be an exaggeration to say it has had a massive impact on me. I think back to how nervous I was at the first session; I could never have imagined speaking in front of 120+ people on a webinar. I would never have imagined ever being able to talk in front of the camera, let alone about my mental health, but this group gave me the confidence to do that. It was one of the best experiences I can remember, and with such great people.”

What advice would you give people embarking on a similar project?

Involving experts by experience is essential. Build in time to recruit a diverse group of individuals so that they can provide a range of perspectives. Try to alter the day and time of sessions, so that the same individuals aren’t missing out if they can’t attend at particular times.

Share notes after the meeting and give the group the opportunity to feed into the project outside of the sessions. This way everyone feels as invested and empowered by the experience.

Ensure that you have at least two enhanced-DBS checked staff to facilitate breakout rooms during Zoom sessions. This also helped in terms of hosting the steering group sessions. It meant that one of us could lead, whilst the other provided support to the young people and took notes.

Remote Influence and Participation

Co-production

How - Methods

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