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Case study: Children and Young People workforce project

Between April 2021 and 2022, Mind’s Physical Activity team ran 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. These were aimed at anyone working or volunteering in the physical activity sector.

Who was involved?

We recruited a steering group of 12 young people with lived experience of mental health problems. 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 a webpage and resource designs
  • Shared their stories in a video
  • Planned content for a webinar, where we launched the resources and highlighted the importance of co-production

A young person co-hosted the webinar, and 4 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 responses. This meant that the whole group could anonymously contribute suggestions. Plus it provided a handy record of ideas from 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 help coaches support young people during a physical activity session. The young people involved in the project offered specific suggestions on wording to make the resource more user friendly and relevant.

The lived experience film is also incredibly powerful. We'll be using social media to raise awareness of the resources. We want the sector to include the video in training courses for coaches, so  they can be upskilled on supporting young people experiencing mental health problems.

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 more 250 sign-ups. 4 other young people shared insights and were involved in planning the session.
  • Public speaking – 3 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.
  • Resource development experience – Young people shaped the resources during sessions and reviewed content and designs outside of meetings. We ensured that during our final Zoom session, we showed them all the finished products so they could celebrate their contributions.

“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 to people running similar projects?

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, while the other provided support to the young people and took notes.

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