Tuesday 11 October 2016

Action! Young people as researchers and decision-makers

Research Fellow and City of Edinburgh Council youth worker Christina McMellon reports on exploring the Young Edinburgh Action approach to effective participation.

Young Edinburgh Action (YEA) is an innovative approach to implementing the City of Edinburgh Council’s Young People’s Participation Strategy, the aim of which is to facilitate young people’s meaningful participation in partnership working and decision-making. YEA supports young people to identify and research issues that matter to them in Edinburgh. The findings from action research carried out by young people are shared with senior decision makers at ‘conversations for action’ where plans are developed based on the young people’s recommendations for improving services.

The YEA approach is informed by the views of young people and professionals, academic theory and the need for local government to evidence the work that they do. YEA has developed a partnership with the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships to share the learning from this approach. This partnership, headed up by Professor Kay Tisdall from University of Edinburgh, was awarded a Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant by The University of Edinburgh’s College of Humanities and Social Science to create a short film about young people’s experiences of being a young researcher. The film will be used to stimulate discussion among academics and practitioners about the role of young people as researchers and about young people’s participation more broadly.

YEA: It’s a Film” takes viewers through the YEA action research process, including a focus upon impact, and gives a range of practical examples. One such example is of a group currently working on gender inequality: They held a research event for 60 young people who agreed that it is important to challenge gender stereotypes at an early age. The group decided to write a storybook for children aged 4-6 and worked with an illustrator to develop a story called ‘Alex and Charlie’ that looks at a day in the life of two young friends. After a conversation for action where the group members presented their work, City of Edinburgh Council agreed to underwrite the costs of publishing the book and gifting two copies to every nursery and primary school in Edinburgh. The process is not, however, always straightforward and the film does not shy away from stating the challenges (and benefits) for young people of being involved with the project.

The film is accompanied by a CRFR briefing paper written by Council staff that outlines the YEA approach: Young Edinburgh Action: Reinvigorating young people's participation in Edinburgh.

Young people are currently working on their own briefing paper which will complete a trio of resources exploring the YEA approach and stimulating meaningful discussion about young people being researchers.


Watch 'YEA:It's a Film' online here
Download the CRFR Briefing 'Young Edinburgh Action: Reinvigorating young people's participation in Edinburgh' here

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