Our vision

Every child and young person in Somerset has the opportunity to have a voice about their life experiences and aspirations and the services that care for them listen and act respectfully upon those voices to ensure children and young people are happy, healthy and prepared for adulthood.

Whether you are a young person or you are working with young people, there are many ways that you can engage throughout Somerset and beyond. Have a browse through the toolkit on the left and take your pick!

There is a good tradition in Somerset for listening to the voices of children, young people and their families to help shape better outcomes for them.

We are a skilled and knowledgeable team who can help you support young people to participate in their services, schools and communities.

As we develop this information we’ll be telling you more about how you can get involved.

In the meantime, we have developed a Participation strategy for young people and staff from a range of organisations within Somerset.

Youth voice groups

Young people represent their peers through forums, within the service they receive, sharing the views and opinions of Somerset’s young people and feeding back to decision makers.

Our annual review has more information about the work of the Participation and Engagement Team and our film and animations list showcases the films and animations the members of our youth voice groups have created or worked on.

Youth Forum

Young people across Somerset are encouraged to scrutinise Somerset’s services through a youth-led forum, where topics affecting them are discussed, their views collected and their voices shared, this helps Somerset deliver safe services for young people and families.

Contact – Fiona Phur
fzphur@somerset.gov.uk
07811 307699

Somerset in Care Council (SiCC) and Somerset Leaving Care Council (SLCC) – Somerset Care Council

A group of young people that meets up to talk about all things affecting children and young people in or leaving care. These contributions help to shape the care system to make it better for all young people in Somerset.

Contact – Damien Erangey
derangey@somerset.gov.uk
Website: www.somersetincarecouncils.org.uk

Somerset Youth Parliament

Somerset Youth Parliament works with decision makers, key community representatives and politicians to influence change, identify opportunities and better outcomes for children and young people across the county. Somerset Youth Parliament upholds the core values of democracy, fairness, respect and equality within everything it does.

Each year young people aged 11 to 18 years get the chance to vote on the issues that are most important to them. The results tell local services, decision-makers and government what young people think as well as what they are most passionate about. It is a process called Make Your Mark.

Contact – Kate Darlington
kdarlington@somerset.gov.uk

The Unstoppables

A group for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged between 13-25 who want to have their voice heard and help to make changes to services that affect them.

Contact – Lauren Oliver
SENDparticipation@somerset.gov.uk
Website: www.somersetparentcarerforum.org.uk/the-unstoppables/

If you would like to engage with any of the groups above, please complete this form.

Participation Workers Network

A multi-agency group of Engagement and Participation Workers who work collaboratively to develop and deliver opportunities for young people and elevate the young person’s voice.

Contact – Fiona Phur
fzphur@somerset.gov.uk
07811 307699

These are the opportunities for young people to engage with participation workers across Somerset – Participation Workers Network –  Somerset Mapping Tool

Route 1 Advocacy and Independent Visitors

Advocacy
All children and young people (age 4 to 25) who receive a service from Children Social Care are entitled to access advocacy before any meeting to discuss what you would like to say.

An advocate is your voice and advocates are independent, there to listen and there to support you. We will present your views back to the meeting or relay to the appropriate professionals or support you if you wish to attend.

More information on Route 1 Advocacy.

Independent Visitors
All children and young people who are looked after by the local authority, and it’s in their best interest, and they have a right, to be offered an Independent Visitor. The role of the Independent Visitor is to befriend you and offer guidance and support. The Independent Visitor becomes a reliable, consistent adult in your life. The relationship is one-to-one and you would spend time together in the community regularly.

More information on Independent Visitors.

Contact – Route1IndependentVisitors@somerset.gov.uk
01749 822801
Route 1 website

Somerset Participation Toolkit

This toolkit is a set of tools, guidance and resources that have been designed to support workers, staff and volunteers to engage with and involve children and young people and their families in the planning, delivery and monitoring of their own and others’ care, support and services. This toolkit should help you to hear about and learn from their lived experiences.

More information on the Participation Toolkit.

Consultation and engagement events

There are many opportunities throughout the year for young people to consult and review organisations policies and the ways in which they work. Keep checking this page for live consultations that are taking place throughout Somerset.

Youth Forum Summer Sessions
We have an upcoming Youth Forum event in person on Sunday 14 August – 11am to 3pm

Youth Forum invites young people across Somerset aged 10 to 18 years (up to 25 with SEND) to attend our Youth Forum Summer Sessions. We will discuss the matters that affect young people in Somerset and share them to help Somerset improve our services for young people and their families.

These events will be taking place over Zoom. If you would like to take part in these or other Youth Voice Group events, please fill in our Expression of Interest form.

Volunteering

Young people can volunteer at Somerset County Council and our partner organisations or get involved in fundraising events.

Did you know that volunteering can

  • Open up career opportunities as you gain new skills
  • Provide you with valuable experience which enhances your CV
  • Help you to meet with other people from your local community
  • Bring a great sense of personal achievement

The  following charities have details of a large variety of volunteering opportunities in Somerset and can help you identify something that matches your interests and availability.

Spark Somerset
Spark Somerset run the countywide volunteer service and can help you find an opportunity.
Contact – mailto:info@sparkachange.org.uk
01458 550973
Website – www.sparkachange.org.uk

The Volunteering Network
Contact – 01458 836130
Website – www.thevolunteernetwork.org.uk/

The Duke of Edinburgh Award
Contact – dofe@somerset.gov.uk
Website – www.dofe.org

Mystery shopping

Mystery shopping
We support young people to review local services and provide feedback for organisations. This helps to make sure that local services are young person friendly and are working well.

There are lots of different ways you can be involved such as:

Somerset-Wide Integrated Sexual Health (SWISH)
If you have ever used this service, the website and app both have ‘Rate This Clinic’ when you select the clinic that you visited. More details

Short Breaks feedback
If you are a young person with special educational needs and or disabilities and use the Somerset County Council Short Breaks service, we would love to get your feedback on the range of activities available. Please send any comments, photos or questions to the team mail box shortbreaksteam@somerset.gov.uk

Check out their page to find out more.

Bespoke packages and training

The team can offer bespoke training packages including

  • Participation and representation
  • Person-centred planning
  • Recruitment and funding panels
  • Hearing the voice of the young person in funding bids

For more information please contact Fiona Phur on 07811 307699 or fzphur@somerset.gov.uk

Training
The Open University offer a free online course in Children and Young People’s Participation.

Social media platforms

Stay up to date with news, updates, events and engage with us through social media.

Somerset Young People’s Voice
Instagram – www.instagram.com/somersetyouthvoice/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/SomersetYouthVoice
Twitter – www.twitter.com/SomerYouthVoice

SEND Participation Team
Instagram – www.instagram.com/sendparticipation/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/sendparticipationteam

Somerset Youth Parliament
Instagram – www.instagram.com/somerset_youth_parliament/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/SomersetYouthParliament

Last reviewed:August 8, 2022 byJennifer

Next review due:February 8, 2023

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