On the 24th February, a productive and fun day was had by all at the inaugural North East Participation Day, which was held in Durham. The aim of the day was to gather ideas from the young people of Swiis about how they could contribute to effective service delivery. We spoke about whether this could be through activities or involvement in the recruitment process for prospective foster carers. Swiis Education Advisor, Jonathan Ord, tells us about the activities for our North East young people.North East Participation Day

The first activity of the day was to ask the young people who the most important person in Swiis is. They were shown pictures of the staff and asked to pick who they thought were the most important people within Swiis. Once they had all discussed their answers, they were given an envelope with the real answer: ‘you’. This highlights that our young people are the heart of everything we do.

After lunch, we were honoured to welcome three young people from the Swiis Leeds Yorkshire young people’s group Vasstel, accompanied by their Placement Support Worker Alison. They gave a highly informative talk about their experiences, and how they developed and sustained their own group. Participation Day in the North East

This presentation and discussion clearly energised our North East young people present. There was real enthusiasm for the final discussion on how to take things forward. There was an exceptional level of sign-up for our council (even from young people who couldn’t attend on the day). We presented the young people from Yorkshire with a thank you gift before saying goodbye. When they left, we were left with a real sense of how worthwhile the whole experience was.

The young people are now eager to start their own group. It is really positive that, although they require some staff support, they are very keen that it should be driven and led by themselves.

The challenge now is to reflect on the day and look at how we take things forward. Seeing the reactions of the young people on the day, we are all confident the council will happen. Thanks to all the young people and staff who gave up their Saturday. A special thank you to our new friends from Leeds Yorkshire, who proved a real inspiration to us all.