Putting the views of disabled young people into action

By Lynn Horsfield, KIDS

KIDS project Make it Personal (MIP3) has been working with groups of young people across three regions - South, West Midlands and North  West - to form Young Peoples Engagement Groups (YPEGs). These groups have looked at the personal budgets and in particular how education budgets can help them reach their aspirations and goals.

Young people are often not consulted about how the services they use and are designed for them are disseminated. At KIDS we are eager to hear their views and use these to design guidance in a format of their choice and share it in a way they will find accessible and useful. We are working with them to inform our MIP3 guidance for young people including those with complex communication needs.

We formed groups in different geographical areas and then we asked young people what they enjoyed about participating in the YPEGs. This is what they told us:

"I have been going to the YPEG in the South for quite some time now. I go to the group sessions and have been to the Project Board meetings in London and in Manchester. I've had some great opportunities you know - like telling the EPIC group about personal budgets and what we have learnt about them."

"I have been part of the YPEG but can't make all the meetings. The YPEG coordinator comes out to visit me and also emails me to find out what I think about things. I enjoyed looking at what should be on a website and giving ideas."

We asked them: how has the group impacted or benefitted you, what have you learnt?

"We have learnt about personal budgets and Education Health and Care (EHC) plans. We have thought about how these can be used and what the good things are. We had a list of good points. Even though I won't get an EHC plan or personal budget other younger people can and should know all about them."

"I've made friends - even away from the area, I really like A and she is from Manchester. I have grown in confidence and am enjoying talking about different things with other YPEGers. We are doing a great job working together."

We wanted to ensure they felt that the group had a positive impact upon them so we asked them: what impact do you feel you have had?

"The group makes me feel like I matter, I have been talking to important people about the YPEG and the work we have been doing. The strategic advisory group have been listening to us and our ideas, I spoke to some of them and they listened."

"We are actually going to be filming clips for the website - we decided what information we want on it and we will be making it. It shows that we are helping others and are making a difference. It looks good for my CV too."

The young people enjoyed talking about their aspirations and dreams for the future. They created posters which depicted their goal and different things that could support them to get there.

Young people thought back to what else could have helped, e.g. clubs they could have accessed at school, work experience they could have tried or volunteer opportunities they would have liked.

We will continue with our YPEGs and continue to work with young people to ask their opinions and then use these to produce the guidance for other young people in a format that they like and find accessible.

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