Youth Engagement with Government – Survey Results:
Earlier this year the Government’s Youth Engagement Team, at the Civil Society and Youth Directorate (at DCMS) consulted stakeholders* on the future of its Youth Engagement Grants programme which funds both the Youth Policy Development Group (pic) managed by ShoutOutUK and its partners, and the UK Youth Parliament (managed by the British Youth Council and its partners). The review included surveys of young people in England, circulated in February by Young Voices Heard and ShoutOutUK to their networks for the Youth Policy Development Group. Findings and commentary below.
Read more about the work of Youth Policy Development Group and take part in their latest monthly consultation for the Department for Health & Social Care. Aged 12-25, in England? click link until 6th June : “Mental Health & Well-Being“ You can also signup to received future #youthvoice opportunities/surveys and feedback direct to your inbox at YouthVoiceDirect or subscribe to our News/Blogs.
Thankyou to those young people who took part in the Youth Engagement survey, and to the orgs/staff and volunteers who signposted it. Sharing the results below is part of our feedback to you and our contribution to the debate about how #youthvoice can add value to national policy development. We have asked the Government to give feedback on the impact their views have, particularly on the future direction of youth engagement grants – and will share this once we have any news. One of the questions in the survey is how best to do this.
Note – the YPDG also took account of other research into young people’s views on Govt could better engage with young people which was discussed at their roundtable. Here is a slide from their presentation posted on Twitter in February 2022.
Youth Engagement Survey Scroll down for YVH commentary
Introduction: As part of the third roundtable with ministers, as well as to inform the government’s wider youth engagement strategy, SOUK and partners including Young Voices Heard disseminated a survey form, asking young people from across England to share with us their views on the following five questions:
– Q.1: Why do you want to be involved in engaging with the government?
– Q.2: How would you like to be involved in planning and decision making?
– Q.3: What more can the government do to engage with young people?
– Q.4: How can the government make sure it is engaging with a diverse range of young people?
– Q.5: How can the government increase awareness of youth engagement activities with young people?
While SOUK disseminated the questionnaire as open-ended, Young Voices Heard asked the participants in its networks to rank different answer options on a scale of 1-6, with 1=Strongly Disagree and 6=Strongly Agree, which were ascribed to each of the questions above. An additional question was added: – Q.6: What would a “feedback loop” look like between young people (views/proposals)and the government (proposals/actions)?
In total, we were able to survey 192 young people aged 16-25 via youth stakeholder networks. The graphs below show the regional and age segmentation of the respondents.
Note on sources: the qualitative data /graphs source is the Young Voices Heard survey (n =150) circulated to a variety of local youth voice organisations, campaigners and representatives including youth councillors and young MYPs. The qualitative comments (n=42) were gathered via ShoutOutUk networks.
70% of YVH’s sample were aged under 18; 16% were 18-21 and 14% aged 22-25.
YVH Commentary on the results
This isn’t the first consultation of young people by Government, on how best to engage with them in developing of national policy. In March this year we had results of the Youth Policy Review which included a consultation (last year) with young people on their priorities for local youth services. This was the latest in a series of initiatives, boosted by the Positive for Youth initiative in 2010-2012 at the Department for Education. The Positive for Youth strategy itself was developed with young people’s input, which included the concept of feedback to young people on how they had shaped it with the publication of a paper described what “You said We did” . This strategy led to the consolidation of funding support for embedding youthvoice in Parliament and to policy makers in Government with examples such as through the Youth Select Committee model, the Make Your Mark annual ballot of campaign priorities, the Youth Scrutiny Group (forerunner of the Youth Policy Development Group) and the combined Youth Voice support initiative bringing together the network of local Youth Councils and the UK Youth Parliament (now the Youth Parliament grant). However, within all of these initiatives has been an uneasy balance of expectations between young people priorities and Government policy priorities.
On this occasion the policy topic is shared. The “Youth Engagement” process itself is back on the agenda. How can it catch up with developments in youth empowerment/participation space in recent years. How can it reach out? The sample size of those who took part was relatively small given the short window to consult but we hope that this is the start of a conversation that will keep all our platforms under review, and provide space for new ideas to flourish. (James C. Ed)
Its tempting to analyse the results be comparing reactions to different proposals and how young people rated them. For example, 96% agreed with the statement that young people want “to be heard and have their views acted upon, informing and influencing policy decisions. (includes 63% who strongly agreed).
What is more interesting is the nuanced responses and themes, especially thoughts emerging from the open-ending question about how to make youth engagement more “engaging” for both young people and policy-makers. The subsequent analysis and policy recommendations discussed by the Youth Policy Group itself will have explored these themes in more detail.
What Ive found interesting is the nature of the questions that were being asked. How can the process be more inclusive, how can more people can be made aware of it, how it give better feedback about impact. This line of enquiry indicates a direction of travel that is about the development the quality of the consultation and participation.
Yes, young people believe they are still under-represented in policy making and that their perspective and their lived experience can stimulate creative thinking to policy solutions. More and more want ‘agency’ over their futures, not just personally, but in terms of national policies. Not just to be listened to, but to know their views make a positive impact. “Talk with us not About Us”.
One example is that with the rise of digital connectivity , young people favour greater active participation whether in consultations, or referenda. This resonates with the revival of the campaign to lower the voting to 16, alongside better education about the political and democratic process (political literacy).
*A webinair hosted by the National Youth Agency on behalf of DCMS had over 60 attendees (March 2022) reviewing the future of Youth Engagement programme/grants.