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Youth Voice: Shaping communities, driving change

Youth Voice: Shaping communities, driving change

Researcher: Katie Tyrrell

Recent research revealed that young people have a vast array of concerns about their local communities across Suffolk. In particular, the influx of gang violence within their local areas, having negative implications for their sense of safety and wellbeing, experience of social exclusion from their local communities and feeling voiceless, despite having rights to be heard. Katie Tyrrell, Research Associate at the University of Suffolk, worked in collaboration with local community partners (Ipswich Opportunity Area (IOA), Volunteering Matters, Inspire Suffolk & Suffolk Young People’s Health Project (4YP) to disseminate previous research findings and build upon the recommendations, which included increasing opportunities for youth voice to shape local policy and practice. By adopting methods of co-production and by exploring alternative means of engaging communities in local decision making the research team generated new knowledge of best practice in participation and co-production alongside young people in Ipswich.

Findings from a quantitative survey identified that over 200 young people in Ipswich suggesting that they should have more opportunities to influence local decisions. The project facilitated conversations between adults and young people to encourage co-production to generate meaningful outcomes. Part of the UKRI SPF-fund enabled the following research dissemination and activities to take place:

  • Training of 3 youth workers from community partner organisations in research methods, theoretical underpinnings of participation and community engagement.
  • Researcher and youth worker led workshops with 50 young people aged 12-25 to investigate feelings about their local community and perceptions of mechanisms for youth involvement in local decision making.
  • Stakeholder interviews with local leaders to understand local policy context with regards to co-production, participation and the barriers and facilitators for embedding practice incorporating youth voice. 
  • Community engagement events with local commissioners, young people, NGO professionals and local authority.

Tyrrell, K (2019) Young people’s perceptions of provision and opportunities in Suffolk  Ipswich: University of Suffolk.

Tyrrell, K (2020) CoronaCollections: Suffolk Young Peoples Experiences of COVID-19 and the transition back to education. Ipswich: University of Suffolk.

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