Participation and Co-production
Break really value young people’s views and want to make sure they are able to have a voice and a say in decisions that matter to them. We recognise that young people are the experts in their own lives and that our services will only be as good as they can be when staff and young people work together.
When adults and young people work together we can create services that meet the needs of our young people, where staff develop skills and gain a deeper understanding of the young people they support, and where we have effective services with the best people working in them.
Young people who grow up in care have often had big life changes happen to them with very little say in the process. Article 12 in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of the Child says that all children have the right to express their views, and the right to have views given due weight. At Break this at the heart of everything we do.
When young people are able to have a voice and are involved in the decision making we see that it can increase confidence and self-esteem, and can encourage them to become active citizens in their own communities as they become adults.
Participation and co-production are continuous processes and we can always do more. Our aim is to have a culture of participation embedded across the charity, where we share decision making and power. When young people and adults at Break work together we simply make better homes and services for everyone! Read on to see some of the examples of our work that has been co-produced.
Residential children’s homes
Our staff use lots of different tools in our homes and services to make sure they are seeking out and capturing young people’s views. This can be everything from having casual conversations around the dinner table, using symbols to communicate with non-verbal young people or having house meetings to discuss ideas and to work together to resolve any issues in the home. Young people are involved when new staff are recruited to ensure we have the best people working here. Painting rooms, doing gardening, weekly meal planning and organising holidays and activities are all things they get involved with. Some of our services use survey tools to capture young people’s views, and all young people are encouraged and supported to attend their yearly review meetings.
Staying Close, Staying Connected (SCSC)
Our innovative leaving care service has had co-production at the heart, right from the beginning. Care experienced young people were consulted before the service was even proposed, in order to find out what the needs are and to understand what the experience of leaving care is like. Young people shape the service through a monthly forum, where they bring feedback and ideas, and discuss ongoing matters in the service. A group of young people have worked with our evaluators to become Young Researchers and they are co-producing the evaluation process. Young people have expressed their views through online surveys and interviews, and we have young people representation at service meetings, and at the SCSC board. Some young people have spoken about their experiences with leaving care in presentations to the Department of Education, to local authorities across the country and even having a letter exchange with a Member of Parliament!
“They've changed me as a person for the better. All young people who have been through the care system deserve this.”
When our new CEO was to be recruited in 2019 we wanted everyone at Break - staff, young people and trustees - to be able to have a say in the decision. The CEO would be steering Break forward so we wanted to make sure we chose the best possible person for the job. We therefore asked the candidates to create a video answering “What has attracted you to the role of Chief Executive at this time and how will Break benefit from your experience, knowledge and input?”. These videos where shared through an online survey, where everyone could score the candidates. These scores were added to the scoring from the recruitment panel. As an organisation we are always looking to try out new and innovative ways to involve all of Break in decision making, and this format worked well for leadership recruitment.