More About Methodology
The methods used to support community engagement should be fit for purpose: but what does this mean for a mixed audience, when the participants are 10 years old, or 15 years old or adults?
As a partner in the pilot Children's Parliament uses creative approaches to support and foster participation. In developing the approach from the three-event model the partners agreed that the pilot would benefit from the kinds of approaches that Children's Parliament use regularly, this might be described as an active, hands-on approach so that children and young people (and subsequently adults) would 'make or create' as part of the dialogue and in doing so capture and represent their views. Simple, attractive and easy-to-do activities - a series of props - provided a way-in to conversations on matters of importance. The intention was that no-one would sit in front of a blank flipchart, rather they would literally unwrap a prop (in the case of Event 3 every group challenge was contained in a giant pizza box) which would intrigue and inspire them to work together.
As an example, to encourage conversations about what children or young people need to be healthy, happy and safe at home, in school and in the community (Events 1 and 2) small groups were given a large jigsaw with prompt questions relating to these areas. They worked together to complete each part of their jigsaw and build their almost life-size response.
In the joint children/young people/adult session participants worked in groups to deepen conversations about shared topics of interest. As an example, some groups talked about the local environment and represented views on a tree they built and decorated with ideas from a pack provided:
As an example, to help the groups talk about poverty and inequality groups built a tower of bricks on which they identified what needs to happen in the city to achieve the aspiration written on the top brick that 'everyone has what they need to live a good life and have the same opportunities'.
There was also time for energising, fun activities - each team took on the Matchbox Challenge and had to fit as many tiny items into a matchbox as they could in just 5 minutes. (A bit of competitiveness crept in at this point….)