Engaging Younger People

This workbook by the Local Government Association is a tool for elected members wanting to understand more about how to engage young people in their ward. The goal is to involve the interests of young people to strengthen local democracy whilst delivering outcomes councillors aim to achieve.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This workbook by the Local Government Association is a tool for elected members wanting to understand more about how to engage young people in their ward. The goal is to involve the interests of young people to strengthen local democracy whilst delivering outcomes councillors aim to achieve. As a result, this can drive new solutions and generate decisions that benefit a range of people.

The workbook is outlined in four main parts:

  • Gaining a fuller understanding of young people in your ward

This section defines youth as well as democratic engagement. It also encourages use of local data (on ward level) to help the understanding of which issues are affecting the local youth. The section gives guidance on youth representative structures and states that young people are often also engaged through public and social participation methods. Lastly, it explains how youth forums act as a hub for youth engagement and provides an exercise for the reader, asking them to think about how they can improve engagement of young people.

  • Engaging young people in local elections

This section begins with outlining the key barriers for young people participating in elections which are:

  • Too much focus on politics of the specific party rather than actual issues.
  • Limited knowledge about how the election process works.
  • Believing that government (local and national) does not have implications on their lives.
  • Thinking that elections are an inconvenience to them.

It then presents some facts around young people and voting (registered voters, turnout etc.), and a case study about how to get young people into the habit of voting.

  • The benefits of youth engagement

This section outlines the benefits of youth engagement by presenting information on children’s rights and young people’s right to be heard. It also looks at information about how involving children and young people in decision-making can be of benefit as well as the benefits of valuing young voices. It then presents a case study focusing on engaging young people with disabilities in service design and one about involving young people in scrutiny. The section ends with an exercise about reflecting on issues young people are facing, and what the reader can do about them as well as how the issues could be improved by involving young people.

  • Creating meaningful youth participation

This section starts with defining youth participation as well as outlining a set of guidance points on how to engage young people. It also presents an adapted version of the ladder of participation, ‘Roger Hart’s ladder of young people’s participation’ and highlights barriers to engaging young people. It then presents a case study about how to get young people engaged with local democracy, followed by an exercise on creating meaningful participation.

Thereafter, the workbook presents guidance on how to put these aspects into practice as well as what the next steps are. These include both case studies and exercises guiding the reader through the remainder of the document. It concludes with some quotations about children, young people and participation that sum up the key ideas of the workbook.

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