How we do it

Our approach to participation has been developed with children, young people, parents and carers. Learn more about our approach, the key principles for effective participation, the different ways people can participate, why it matters and the legislation. 

a spider diagram showing the council's approach to participation.

Throughout our participation activities we aim to:

  • be accountable - be responsible for our actions and honest about what might be and not be possible
  • be transparent – making sure everyone involved knows what is going on and understands how and why decisions are made
  • be informative – providing useful information which helps everyone understand what is happening and what things mean
  • be respectful – helping everyone's views and ideas to be listened to and valued
  • make sure that everyone has a choice about if they participate and how they do this – this is called voluntary participation
  • be relevant – making sure that opportunities to participate focus on the things which matter to the people involved
  • support everyone to be creative – helping people to come up with new ideas or ways of doing things to help achieve a goal
  • help people to feel supported – where everyone works together and helps each other to achieve a goal
  • be inclusive – making sure everyone gets to be involved and feel that their ideas are welcomed
  • provide safe spaces where people who might be affected by an action or decision can feel comfortable to express their views and ideas without fear of being judged or criticised.

Our Nottinghamshire Approach to Participation [PDF]

  • Participation takes commitment and time
  • Think about the purpose of the engagement
  • Provide safe and accessible spaces
  • Consider all the ways we can listen and help people communicate
  • People should always have choice about being involved
  • Everyone involved needs clear information so they understand and can make informed contributions
  • Consider the audience to make sure that the participation can influence our service design, delivery and review
  • Be honest about what we can and cannot achieve
  • Make sure feedback is given to everyone involved so they know how their views and contributions have made a difference
  • Participation is a continuous cycle of learning and involvement.

People can participate in lots of different ways and engagement can have different focuses. We are committed to involving children, young people, parents and carers in all areas:

Area of focus Examples
  • Participation activity relates directly to the person’s own life
  • Outcomes that primarily impact the individual.
  • Involving people in their plan
  • Peer support and mentoring.
Services for children, young people and families  
  • Participation activity aims to improve
    the quality of the service
  • Outcomes affect a wider group of
    children, young people, parents, carers and families.
  • Recruiting and interviewing staff
  • Telling us about your experience of support and services.
The Council  
  • Participation activity relates to planning, design, delivery and review of support and services
  • Outcomes influence policy, practice and changes in your local area.
  • Deciding how money should be spent
  • Being on forums or boards that lead to change.

  • People feel valued and listened to
  • Services will be better at meeting people's needs
  • The strengths, skills and ideas everyone brings are recognised and welcomed
  • Helps build confidence and self-esteem
  • Raises awareness and knowledge about services
  • Everyone can contribute to things that matter in their local area
  • Children, young people, parents and carers all bring a fresh perspective and ideas to improve support and services
  • Strengthens relationships between children, young people and adults
  • Increases empathy for people’s experiences
  • Strengthens accountability
  • Challenges everyone to work in a more inclusive way
  • Reflects the values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 12 states that local authorities must take steps to ascertain the views of young people and take them into account in making decisions about services and activities for them.

Section 11 Children’s Act 2004 places a duty on local authorities to know the child’s wishes and feelings and take them into consideration as far as is reasonable, practicable and in line with the child’s welfare.

Section 19 Children and Families Act 2014 requires us to have regard to:

  • the views, wishes and feelings of children, young people and parents
  • the importance of children, young people and parents participating as fully as possible in decisions
  • the importance of children, young people and parents being provided with the information and support they need to help them participate in decisions.

SEND Code of Practice 2015 sets out statutory guidance for organisations working with children and young people and includes a requirement to make sure that children, young people and families are involved in discussions and decisions about their support and local provision.

Our Nottinghamshire Approach to Participation [PDF]

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