How involving children and young people in consultations helped one County Sport Partnership (CSP) analyse its School Games safeguarding practices.
One outcome of Active Cumbria’s Safeguarding Self-Assessment Framework Review was that it was important to increase consultation with service users. Here, we look at how they went about it, and what lessons there may be for other organisations.
Background and methodology
In January 2014, Active Cumbria decided to ask young people across the county what they thought of the county’s School Games events. This included asking whether they thought the safeguarding practices were effective or not.
Two members of the CSP’s core team visited clubs in the north and south of the county to talk to small groups of children and young people. A total of 32 boys and 21 girls (both primary and secondary ages) were asked to express their views on the county-level School Games events.
Consulting young people
The questions asked of the children and young people, and a selection of the responses, included the following:
What would be the first thing you would do if you felt threatened or felt unsafe whilst taking part in your sports activities or at an event?
- it would depend who it involved – if I felt threatened by another young person, I’d inform a leader; but if it was an adult, I’d wait till I got home and tell my parents
- I’d tell the coach or go home and tell my parents
- I’d tell the adult I was with
If you wanted to find out about an organisation that could offer advice around child abuse, harassment or bullying, how would you find out who they were?
- internet search on Google
- ask someone at school or ask parents
- ask one of our coaches
If we wanted to direct you to a webpage where you could find useful information and advice, what could we give you that would help you remember the webpage?
- not a key ring – people are always handing out free key rings and nobody ever uses them
- something useful like a decent writing pen that we could use in school and for homework, which we would look after
- event staff at School Games could have a badge saying ‘If you have any problems, come speak to me’ – also introduce them at the start
Lessons to put into practice
There were a number of learnings from the consultation exercise about what worked best as part of the process itself:
- don’t overcomplicate your consultation, just get on and do it
- children appreciate being asked what they think and often come up with really innovative ideas and suggestions
- face-to-face consultation with small groups of young people is much more engaging than questionnaires or surveys
- ensure there's a balance of boys and girls, different ages, abilities, etc involved in your consultation – for example, boys' and girls' responses varied greatly
- use open, easy-to-understand questions, so that children can have the opportunity to say exactly what they think
Applying the results of the consultation
How did Active Cumbria apply what they learned?
"Following the consultation, we launched a Twitter competition to produce ‘Safe in Sport’ posters to include useful safeguarding information on where to get help along with useful numbers and web links. The posters are now continually promoted via all Active Cumbria programmes.
"In response to the feedback from children and young people around what we could provide information on where to get help, Cumbria School Games Local Organising Committee distributed pens and stress balls. These resources included a web link to the Active Cumbria Safe in Sport page. In June 2014, over 700 participants and 150 young leaders at the Level 3 School Games Multisport Festival received these resources."