Scroll down to find out more about the work of the Participation team.
The Participation staff work to fulfil NICCY’s legislative remit to encourage children and young people to participate – this means having a say in the decisions that affect their lives; having a say in day-to-day activities such as school; and, having a say in society in general.
There is no single definition of participation; it is both a process and also an outcome, which may differ in form and situations. However, taking into account the importance of incorporating active involvement of children and young people and hearing the voice of children and young people, NICCY defines participation of children and young people as:
‘Having a real and meaningful say and involvement in decisions that affect their lives’
As well as working directly with children and young people, and in the absence of government having a specific policy or structures in place to ensure that they are involved and have a say in decisions that affect them, the Participation Team work at a more strategic level with government departments and public agencies. The aim of this work is to raise awareness of the need and benefits of participation, and to work towards embedding a ‘culture of participation’ in the decision making process right across government. This includes a particular focus with government departments who have a significant role in delivering services for children and young people.
The participation staff are also responsible for the Commissioner’s Youth Panel. There are more than 60 members of the Youth Panel, who support the work of the Commissioner and advise her on key issues.
The ‘NICCY Youth Panel’ (NYP) was established to help the Commissioner in her day-to-day work. The Youth Panel is made up of young people who share their experiences and thoughts with the Commissioner and her staff and actively help NICCY make decisions about issues that affect children and young people.
The panel’s aim is to empower and help children and young people to take an active and full part in participation and discussions on, issues affecting children and young people in Northern Ireland. Examples of their work in supporting the Commissioner are mentioned throughout this strategy alongside our youth panel engagement guidelines; how the different teams within NICCY engage with the NYP, and the importance of the youth panel in our Participation Screening process.
Where the appropriate experience is not found within current NYP membership, we will engage with children and young people and relevant organisations that have the appropriate knowledge and experience.
NICCY and the Participation staff regularly review how we engage with children and young people to ensure that we make the best use of our resources to maximise our outcomes. Participation Officers have spent time developing and refining resources which linked children and young people’s rights and the UNCRC to both the revised school curriculum and youth work curriculum.