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Involving Young People in Project Planning




Planning a project for children and young people? Are you seeking young people’s views? How about involving young people in the planning stages of your project?

What can this bring to the project and how can you involve young people successfully?

There has been much positive emphasis in recent years to encourage young people to participate in projects, programmes and activities in their community. Participation invariably brings a degree of responsibility and autonomy so why not enable young people to express their needs and aspirations from the outset?

The current government iitiative ‘Positive for Youth’ and the previous government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ emphasise that young people should be allowed to participate on issues and services which directly affect them.

The ‘Positive for Youth’ policy focuses on encouraging young people to voice their ideas to develop services such as education, transport, health etc. The thinking behind this is participation can engender change and encourage peer recruitment and participation.

So if a young person can take part in decision-making impacting government policy, then consider the potential in encouraging a young person to plan their own project and the wealth of benefits and advantages this could bring to the project and those involved?

To an organisation, or a music leader, involving a young person in planning a project can help to really focus a project, cater for the needs and interests of participants, and work towards ensuring that specific outcomes are met.

Thoughts and ideas from young people can bring a unique and fresh perspective to the planning process. Promotion of projects can change and be delivered to peers and communities through relevant youth language, such as social media, word of mouth, blogging and more. An invitation is likely to be much more readily accepted by a young person if the invitation is sent by a peer or friend.

Involving young people in project planning encourages collaboration and brings a whole host of new skills to a young person including, how to think about a project from beginning to end, how to plan efficiently, how to co-ordinate, manage, promote and evaluate a project.

Adults managing projects in collaboration with young people must provide support for the young people, which should include safeguarding to ensure that the young people feel safe and secure; ensuring that young people have the necessary tools and resources to plan and deliver a project efficiently; to assist and advise young people as required; and to enable young people to reflect on their needs to feel confident in co-ordinating and delivering the project.

soundLINCS has a wealth of ‘hands on’ experience planning projects in partnership with young people. One such project is soundLINCS’ Youth Music funded three year volunteering project for children in challenging circumstances’ – ‘Voltage’. soundLINCS worked with Youth Music, Barnardo’s Leaving Care Service in Lincolnshire and young people (who were care leavers and clients of Barnardo’s) and which soundLINCS considered to be a joint enterprise project.

As part of this project, the young people worked with soundLINCS and the Company’s partners to plan and deliver an activity for Youth Music Week. The young people involved were very active in the planning process taking responsibility for much of the planning and decision making including research into an appropriate activity; making decisions on dates and resources; developing promotion strategies; and also co-ordinating and managing the actual delivery of the project.

The young people involved in the Voltage project showed great initiative in ensuring that they documented their project experience and were active in photographing different aspects of the project work and collecting information along the way. This evidence documented their achievements and were utilised as an evaluation resource and a portfolio of evidence that could be put forward for an accreditation such as Arts Award. It also made a fantastic keepsake of their project journey.

The young people who worked with soundLINCS on the Voltage project were especially forward thinking. The young people independently considered the funding and sustainability of their project and devised activities in which they could raise funds to offset some of the project costs to assist the sustainability of the programme.

soundLINCS facilitated and encouraged the young people in every aspect of the project from decision making through to delivery. By ensuring that the young people were aware of the support and experience soundLINCS had to offer, it enabled the company to work alongside the young people in the spirit of partnership rather than controlling their experiences.

soundLINCS philosophy of treating young people as partners (when the right project allows) enables them to have a whole and complete experience which can make the planning and delivery of a project a much richer experience in terms of learning and development for all those involved!


Some useful articles on Youth Music Network website about Voltage projects which could be useful to organisations considering / already engaging with young people in planning. http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/search/node/voltage

  • ‘Participation Works Partnership’ is a national partnership and consists of 7 national children and young people’s agencies that can support and enable organisations to involve young people and children in development, delivery and evaluation of projects, programmes and services. Their website provides some informative tools and case studies http://www.participationworks.org.uk/
  • ENYAN – English National

    Youth Arts Network: The English National Youth Arts Network (ENYAN) is run by national youth arts development agency Artswork to provide a unique set of services to those using the arts in their work with children and young people – the Youth Arts sector.http://www.artswork.org.uk/enyan-home

  • The Mighty Creatives (TMC) is a charity working across the East Midlands to champion young people’s creativity and innovation. TMC work’s both with and for children and young people, encouraging them to play an active role in everything they do. http://www.themightycreatives.com/home
  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is one of the larger independent grant-making foundations in the UK. They make grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future. In particular they are concerned with children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged. http://www.phf.org.uk/default.asp

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