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The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation

The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation, established in 2007, is a research, teaching and networking hub concerned with children and young people’s participation, inclusion and empowerment. We implement a planned programme of research and social action and promote seminars, workshops, conferences and publications.

We focus on bringing about the changes that children and young people seek by building links between children and young people, academics, policymakers and practitioners.

Children and young people are involved in every part of the process – managing the Centre, planning the research programme, and carrying out action research.

The Centre hosts a young researcher group called UCan. This group is open to children and young people across the North West who are interested in carrying out research as a way of bringing about positive change for themselves, their communities, or globally.

Young people bring ideas for research to the group. Adults and young people then work together to bring about change, seek funding and share new knowledge.

The Centre is directed by and, through the UCLan School of Social Work, Care and Community, together with a board of Associate Directors from the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. These are supported by two research fellows dedicated to the Centre along with twenty-four other staff members who are drawn from across seven schools/sections within UCLan: Social Work Care and Community; Community Health and Midwifery; Sport and Health Sciences; Law; Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching; Community Engagement; Film Media and Performance. Seven of these staff have been recruited this year reflecting growing support for The Centre’s interdisciplinary work.

Our expertise spans theories and practices of participatory research, crossing the boundaries of practice engagement and theory building, by working alongside children and young people to support them taking on roles as researchers, advisors and co-creators of knowledge. Subjects include children and young people’s lived and social citizenship, global perspectives on children’s participation and childhood, contemporary practice with children and young people, student involvement in children and young people’s participation, and participatory methods and pedagogy, including a variety of creative techniques for conducting and disseminating engaging research findings to other young people, local decision makers, national government ministers and international academic audiences.

The Centre also has twenty associates (15 academic and five expert consultants). They include colleagues from the four nations of the UK and international colleagues with experience of building a culture of child participation in the global south or locally in the North West. We also collaborate with fellow academics, participation workers and young people in extensive networks within the UK (particularly England and Wales) and internationally (through Eurochild and through leading roles in ICYRNet and the European Sociological Association childhood research network).

  • The Handbook on Children and Young People's Participation, which we wrote for the Council of Europe, is being used to evaluate and strengthen approaches to children's participation across Europe.
  • The Centre’s research for the Children’s Commissioner for England was cited in the UK Children’s Commissioners’ report to the UN; these concerns about the impact of poverty on the rights of disabled children were picked up by the UN Committee and highlighted to the UK Government.
  • In Japan, the theoretical framework and methodology developed from this research were presented in to the Japanese alternative committee reporting to the United Nations and used by them to inform their 2018 report to the UN which challenged dominant Japanese perspectives on childhood and highlighted children’s agency.
  • In Mongolia, this same methodology was presented to the EU ambassador and Mongolian Government Ministers. It was used as part of the EU-Mongolia Human rights dialogue to develop recommendations for national actions on child protection, in which child participation has a central place. Implementation will be monitored over the next 4 years.
  • Chairing the Eurochild Participation Reference Group since 2013, we have guided the development of the Eurochild Participation Strategy to produce structures enabling marginalised children to represent their views to the European Union, and we continue to support the implementation of this work.
  • Findings and recommendations based on our research have had an impact on Wales national policy making on Roma inclusion and on Mongolian policy on violence against children. For the first time, in Wales, Roma are included in advocacy and advice services for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities in Wales, and Welsh Government Department for Communities funding has been allocated to this service.
  • Across Europe, marginalised children we have worked with through research have reported the personal impacts of their participation in these activities which has helped them build their confidence, gain skills in advocacy and enabled some of them to access mainstream education, university courses, work experience with politicians and employment in research and youth work.
  • The views of thousands of children and young people have been fed into local, national and international policy processes, meeting with MEPs, local and national politicians, children’s ombudsmen and government officials, through policy papers distributed internationally, dialogue events and through travelling exhibitions.

Crook, D.J. (2020) Children Changing Spaces, Changing Schools. Children & Society

Kiili, J. and Larkins, C. (2018)Invited to labour or participate: intra- and inter-generational distinctions and the role of capital in children’s invited participation Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 39(3)

Larkins, Cath (2017) 20 November 2017, European Parliament, Brussels.We're still waiting for answers! Respond to children's questions on Brexit. In: Children and the Risks of Brexit,

Larkins, C. and Bilson, A.(2016)Cluj-Napocca, Romania: Babes-Boylai University ISBN978-606-37-0087-3The Magic 6: Participatory Action and Learning Experiences with Roma Youth Training Manual,available in 8 languages

Larkins,C. Thomas, N. Carter, B. Farrelly, N., Judd, D and Lloyd, J. (2015) ‘Intergenerational support for children’s protagonism: methodological moves towards critical children rights research framed from below’ International Journal of Children’s Rights Spring 2015

Larkins, C., Satchwell, C., Davidge, G., Carter, B. and Crook, D. (2020) Working back to the future: strengthening radical social work with children and young people, and their perspectives on resilience, capabilities and overcoming adversity, Critical and Radical Social Work, Volume 9, Number 2, August 2021, pp. 185-204(20), DOI: 10.1332/204986020X16031172027478

Percy-Smith, Barry and Larkins, Cath (2016) Project Report. PRESA UNIVERSITARĂ CLUJEANĂ Babes-Boylai University, Cluj-Napocca, Romania. Thomas, Nigel , Percy-Smith, Barry, Johnson, Vicky, Larkins, Cath and Crook, Deborah (2016) In: Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation, 23 - 24 June 2016, Liverpool Hope University. (Unpublished).Supporting the Participation and Empowerment of Young Roma: A Participatory Practice guide for professionals.Research with Children and Young People as Partners: What Does it Teach Us About Intergenerational Relations?

Satchwell, C. (2016) ‘Agents of change? Creating meaningful opportunities for children to engage with climate change education’, in Winograd, K. (ed) Environmental Education in Times of Crisis: Children as Agents of Change in Nature and in Community, New York: Routledge.

Satchwell, C. (2018) LiteracyCollaborative writing with young people with disabilities: raising new questions of authorship and agency.

Satchwell, C. and Davidge, G. (2018) Qualitative Research in Psychology.The mismeasure of a young man: an alternative reading of autism through a co-constructed fictional story,

Satchwell, Candice and Larkins, Cath (2018) In: Paulo Freire and Transformative Education: Changing Lives and Transforming Communities. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-54249-6.Children and young people in dialogue with researchers to create connections in the community and the classroom.

Thomas, D (2020) Who am ‘I’? Researching self, stories and subjectivity with children. Global Studies of Childhood, 41(2), 399-412

Thomas, Nigel, Crowley, Anne, Moxon, Daniel, Ridley, Julie, Street, Cathy and Joshi, Puja (2017) Children and Society . ISSN 0951-0605 Beremenyi, Balint Abel, Larkins, Cath, Percy-Smith, Barry and Roth, Maria (2017) Project Report. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.Independent advocacy for children and young people: developing an outcomes framework.Key Learnings from the PEER Project. A Combined Research Paper.

Learning with the Peer Action Collective

From 2021-2023 we are Learning Partner to the Youth Endowment Fund peer research and social action programme Peer Action Collective who will be working in 10 locations across England and Wales. Peer researchers and their allies will be conducting research to understand the relationships and support systems of young people at risk of being drawn into violence. We will be collaborating with them to share understandings of the process of peer research and journeys toward social change.

Reaching In: strengthening marginalised children's participation in decision-making

From 2021-2024 we are working with Eurochild to increase the impact that marginalized children have on public decisions in Europe (decisions made by governments and decisions about services like health, education and social care). There have been some great successes in taking forward children’s participation recently. But, the evidence shows that children’s views rarely have an impact on public decisions. There are challenges in creating effective spaces for meaningful children’s participation.  Opportunities rarely include the children in vulnerable or disadvantaged situations. We are learning from these successes and challenges, planning action and try to achieve change together with children and young people through action research.

Re-writing the Future

We are now in the third phase of a project to explore young people’s perspectives on enablers and barriers to continued education in Lancashire. Funded by FutureU, the project uses creative methods to engage secondary school students in thinking about their educational journeys. In 2021, we have worked with an Animator to bring some of the stories to life and with Games Design students to develop a board game that encourages discussion about themes around continued education and young people’s concerns. This work also links closely with another Lancashire County Council funded project where we worked with young people to explore what is helpful in developing meaningful careers education and advice.

Cocreated evaluation and service design

Over the past ten years we have conducted a range of cocreated action learning evaluations with children and young people and service providers. This portfolio of work currently includes commissions from local authorities and NYAS. In these projects we are working with children in contact with youth justice and diversion services and care experienced young people. Our approach is to understand young people's priorities for outcomes, to explore how services may help achieve these, and to feed in learning to enable ongoing refinement of services. Children and young people take on a variety of coresearcher roles in this work.

Stories to Connect

Stories to Connect is an intense collaborative project in North West England, initiated by young people in UCan, funded by the AHRC and in partnership with Barnardos. Young researchers have collected stories of overcoming challenges (e.g. being in care, being disabled and facing discrimination) and these are being rewoven by children’s authors and animators, to be shared as inspirational stories through a multimedia project in partnership with Barnardo’s and Lancaster University. We have an extension to this funding and are using the methodology to work with new groups of children and young people.

J-UK: Youth initiated research on rights and participation with disabled children in Japan and the UK

Young people from UCLan initiated a research collaboration with an academic from Obelin University. They have delivered training to other disabled young people in Tokyo and the groups in both countries are now working together to conduct a collaborative research project investigating disabled children’s rights to work, mobility and leisure. This project extends the Disabled Children, Rights and Money work they participated in and uses methods from and is funded by Daiwa.

We are still waiting! Responding to children and young people’s views on Brexit

As children and young people in the North West have had very limited opportunities to express their views on Brexit and to interrogate Brexit negotiators, we provided local children with research resources to enable them to share their ideas, to meet with MEPs and an EU Brexit negotiator and to publicise their concerns. They are currently working with a UCLan student to turn this work into a film.

Evaluation of a Service for Young People experiencing ‘high risk’ situations in care

This co-produced evaluation with young people, parents and staff employed a matched control design to investigate changes in outcomes and perceptions of risk for looked after young people receiving a specialist intervention.

Evaluating the Impact of Independent Children’s Rights Institutions

In 2012-13 Sara Imanian, supervised by Professor Thomas, conducted a PhD study ‘Evaluating the Impact of Independent Children’s Rights Institutions’. The research was part of a wider project conceived by the International Research Group on Ombudspersons for Children, and was conducted with the assistance of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC). It took the form of a survey of ENOC members followed by case studies of two member institutions.

The related article can be accessed via Brill.

Innovative Forms of Youth Participation

Commissioned by The Council of Europe’s Youth Department, this mixed methods study explored ways in which public bodies across Europe can respond to recent shifts in young people's political participation. Available via Council of Europe.

Tracking Down Impact: Investigating children’s collective impact on public decision making

Working with Eurochild, and with a local authority in England, we are exploring cases of children’s collective participation in public decision-making, to understand the barriers and facilitators to inclusion and impact. Some of this work forms the basis of the Eurochild Conference 2018 and our collaboration with young people to co-create this event.


Collaborate, The Centre’s seminar series is co-produced between young people and professionals who are part of the Collaborate Project. The Seminar series provides a regular space for seminar participants both inside and outside of UCLan to explore new research into children and young people’s participation. The project itself is being used for the study of dialogue and knowledge production between young people and professionals.UCLan, 2017-2018

You, Your City and the World

This event, in city centre venues throughout Preston, shared findings from child and youth-led research and introduced children and young people to arts-based research methodologies so that they could reflect on personal experience of discrimination and social responses to marginalisation across local and global space.ESRC Festival of Science Event, November 11th 2017.

Responding to Children’s Views on Child Poverty: A solution focused opportunity for politicians, policy makers, practitioners, young people and university researchers to work together

This event was attended by the Children’s Commissioner, local MEP and CEOs of national NGOs as well as by practitioners and children and young people. The aim was to increase understanding of issues raised in stories from young people. The outcome included questions raised to ministers as well as changes in local practice.

PEER (Participation and Empowerment Experiences for Roma youth)

PEER is a nine-country action research project funded by EU JUST/2013/FRAC/AG/6230 led by Professor Cath Larkins. It provides training on facilitating participatory action research with young people and support for Roma children and young people to take part in participatory action inquiry in their communities. In 33 projects over 550 young people have been working with others bringing about change on issues of education, leisure, discrimination, housing and safety. Roma young people and researchers developed a Training Manual, a multimedia guide to action for young people, a Practice Guide for Professionals and a policy paper.

Co-produced Participatory Services for Children in and Leaving Alternative Care

We engage in collaborative evaluations with children, young people and their social care workers where this enables co-creation of services. For example, in one coproduced project, young people leaving care identified the need for informal spaces to meet to share a meal and a community recycling scheme. This service was established with support from local authority staff, volunteers and Cabinet Office funding.

The Right Track

A group of young people who had experience of youth justice systems helped carry out research with other young people to find out what would help them get back on the right track. Young people prioritised and worked with a local authority to develop an action plan. Implementation of this work was through Youth Offending Team staff and resourcing findings.

Disabled Children, Rights and Money

Young people in UCLan conducted research for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner then created a video about their findings. They used this to campaign in England to try to bring about better services for other children and young people. This social action work is supported by staff and volunteers at the University of Central Lancashire. We received additional sponsorship from The Cooperative and Virgin.

Global Perspectives on Children’s Participation

This is a Masters level module that can be studied as part of our CPD suite of modules. It draws on examples of child and youth participation and activism from across the globe and it enables students to identify strategies for effective participation which can be implemented in their own practice.

Masters in Contemporary Practice with Children and Young People

This is an interdisciplinary Masters course which enables students to develop a critical understanding of childhood and children’s rights. Modules focus on theories of childhood, law and social policy and social pedagogy as well as safeguarding. There are opportunities for work/placement based individualised study.

Young people’s involvement in teaching

We are developing ways in which children and young people can be involved in teaching. To date this has involved young people delivering training in the field of mental health within the school of Social Work, Care and Community; young people delivering open access seminars and researchers presenting videos developed with young people to disseminate their research findings.

Students’ involvement in child participation

The Centre encourages involvement from undergraduate and postgraduate students at all stages of projects. For example, Disabled Children Rights and Money, UCan and Stories to Connect have included students in Social Work, Animation, Film-production, Creative Writing, Education, History and Health. The students have primarily been from UCLan, but Stories to Connect has also involved students from Lancaster University and Edge Hill University. The students have gained experience as researchers, workshop volunteers and interns and this has contributed to their coursework and employability.

  • Professor Cath Larkins
  • Professor Candice Satchwell
  • Professor Aidan Worsley
  • Emeritus Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas
  • Professor Joanne Westwood
  • Dr Deborah Crook
  • Dr Donna Thomas,
  • Katie Martin
  • Lowis Charfe
  • Clare Stone
  • Craig Diver
  • Dr John Wainwright
  • Yasmin Perry
  • Dianne Scullion
  • Lindy Simpson
  • Ian Crook
  • Dr Karen Whittaker
  • Elizabeth Granger
  • Dr Dawne Gurbutt
  • Suzanne Wilson
  • Dr Philippa Olive
  • Dr Kathryn Gardner
  • Dr Zoe O’Riordon
  • Dr Rebecca Nowland
  • Jenny Lamb
  • Dr Kelly Bracewell
  • Dan Moxon (Associate Director) - People, Dialogue and Change,
  • Dr Andy Bilson (Associate Director) - Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire / Adjunct Professor, School of Population and Health, University of Western Australia
  • Gavin Redhead (Associate Director) – Strategy Lead for Participation, Lancashire County Council
  • Hannah Peake (Associate Director) – Children’s Services Manager, Barnados
  • Professor Spyros Spyrou - Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, European University Cyprus
  • Geraldine Brady – Associate Professor in Social Work, Nottingham Trent University
  • Anita Franklin – Reader in Children and Family Research
  • Luis Pinto - Learning For Wellbeing
  • Dr Tom Cockburn – Department of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University
  • Professor Barry Percy-Smith – Centre for Applied Childhood Studies, University of Huddersfield
  • Professor Mary Kellett – Children’s Research Centre, Open University
  • Dr Vicky Johnson – Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Darren Sharpe – Childhood and Youth Research Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Claire O'Kane – International Child Rights Consultant
  • Harry Shier – CESESMA, Nicaragua and Queens’ University Belfast
  • Bill Badham – Practical Participation
  • Pauline Geraghty - MBE
  • Dr Helen Stalford – Liverpool Law School and European Children's Rights Unit
  • Professor Anne Graham – Centre for Children & Young People, Southern Cross University, NSW Australia
  • Kavita Ratna - The Concerned for Working Children, Bangalore, India
  • Karen Stuart – Brathay Trust
  • Samia Michail - Burnside Uniting Care
  • Dr Sharon Bessell - Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
  • Dr Johanna Kiili - Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä
  • Dr Melanie McCarry – University of Strathclyde

Here are a selection of videos and presentations from our events and associates about children and young people’s participation:

14th June 2017, Dr Roger Morgan OBE - Pupils 2 Parliament View video

22nd March 2017Dr Jacqueline Kennelly, Citizen Youth View video

Olympic Exclusions : Youth Poverty and Social Legacies View video

Veronika Paulsen PhD candidate in Social Work, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim / Researcher at NTNU Social Research12th October 2016 - Participation and social support in transition to adulthood from Child Welfare Services - A Norwegian Perspective View video

Gulwali Passarlay, final year Politics student, University of Manchester - The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation2nd June 2016 - Gulwali Passarlay talks about his journey from child refugee to young activist View video

Tricia Young, Director of Child to Child.11th May 2016 - Children: Media Partners and Change Agents. An overview of a current initiative in Sierra Leone View video

Suraya Skelland, Corporate Participation Manager, The Children’s Society - The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation13th April 2016 - The Children’s Commission on Poverty (CCP) – through young eyes View video

Felicity Shenton , The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation9th March 2016 - Even if it is legally defensible, does that make it morally right? Children explore the use of physical restraint in custodyView presentation

Kate Baggaley, Barnardo’s Participation Service, Hannah Peake, Lancashire County Council and young people from Lancashire's participation groups including LINX, POWAR and CSI.10th February 2016 - Being heard and influencing decisions in Lancashire: the long and windy road

The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation / The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation /

20 January 2016 - The stories, ethics and politics of research with marginalised girls living and working on the streets of Nairobi View video

4 November 2015 - Children’s participation since the UNCRC: What progress have we made? Gerison Lansdown, Independent Children’s Rights Consultant and Advisor to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child View Video presented by Dr Sally Robinson, Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Australia. /‘I’ve got people here’: Place, space and relationships in the lives of young disabled people in regional Australia View video

Use your situation to change your destinations: UR Boss, a journey towards participation - Roger Smith Professor of Social Work, Durham University - The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation - /, presented by Greg Mannion, Matthew Sowerby, John I’Anson of School of Education, University of Stirling /27th May 2015View video

6 May 2015: Researching ‘Rights-in-Relation’: how participation in school supports achievement and attainment View Video / View video 2 presented by Andy Bilson, Emeritus Professor, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire

2nd December 2014 - Why we need to think again about how to protect children: lessons from monitoring 20 years of practice View Video, by Dr Nicola Ross, Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle, New South Wales.

30 June 2014 - Different Views? Children’s Lawyers and Children’s Participation in Protective Proceeding View video by Dr Anne Crowley, Honorary Fellow, Childhood Research Group, Cardiff University.

30 June 2014 - Keeping children in care safe: the importance of participation View video by Louca-Mai Brady, University of the West of England / Using youth led research to create change in the NHS by Dan Moxon, People Dialogue and Change.

12 May 2014 - Embedding children and young people’s participation in health and social care View video

Youth participation in France: current initiatives and challenges - Patricia Loncle, French School of Public Health - The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation - / by Samia Michail, Principal Researcher, UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families, Australia.

8th May 2014 View video

8th April 2014 - Finding Our Way: What one Child-Led Research program is doing for children, citizenship and service provision View video

Kaz Stuart, Head of Research, Brathay Trust.26th March 2014 - ‘We’re tired of talking to you, when will you do something?View Video

Simon Newitt, Chief Executive, Off the Record

5th March 2014 - A Story of Failure: the mirroring of social and psychic exclusion among young men in a provincial English inner city View video

Dr Sally Robinson, Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Australia.I’ve got people here: Place, space and relationships in the lives of young disabled people in regional Australia View video presented by Andy Bilson, Emeritus Professor, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire. - Anandi Ramamurthy, Senior Lecturer, School of Journalism and Digital Communication, University of Central Lancashire - Please note this seminar was not filmed, at the request of the presenter.Why we need to think again about how to protect children: lessons from monitoring 20 years of practiceView Video

20th November 2013 - Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements Lecture and book launch

presented by Dr Elias Le Grand of Stockholm University.16th October 2013 - Moral Panics and Young White Working-Class Identities: The Moralising Discourse on ‘Chavs’ View video

Dr Sharon Bessell of Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. / (.ppt 451kb)26th September 2013 - Reconceptualising participation as strong, consistent and valued relationships: Lessons from research with children and young people in out of home care in AustraliaView video

Dr Sharon Bessell of Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and Distinguished Visitor of the School of Social Work, UCLan. / 23 September 2013 - Children’s perspectives on strong, supportive communities View video

Sharon Bessell, Senior Lecturer, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and Distinguished Visitor of the School of Social Work, UCLan. / - Lisa Nandy MP Shadow Children’s Minister . - Barry Percy-Smith, Reader in Childhood and Participatory Practice, University of the West of England. - Vicki Coppock. View videos - / / / /18th September 2013 - Advancing the Human Rights of Children: The Australian ExperienceView video

23rd May - Plan B for Youth View video

1st May 2013 - Dream-crushing, prejudices and revolving doors: challenging myths about young people who are NEET View video

20th March 2013 - Muslim Children’s rights in a cold climate? Problematising UK government counter-radicalisation strategies in the ‘War on Terror’ EnglishArabicChineseGermanPolish

- Claire O’Kane, freelance researcher and advocate . View videos - /19th February 2013 - Children and young people as active citizens promoting social justice

- Dan Moxon, Regional Participation Officer, North West Regional Youth Work Unit. View videos - / / /6th February 2013 - Youth participation and the state: reshaping the machinery of governance with and for young people’s voices English Arabic Chinese German

We are always interested in developing further links with potential collaborators. If you believe there are ways that we could work together to bring about positive changes in the lives of children, young people and their families then we would like to hear from you.

If you want to get involved, join the mailing list, or find out more about our work, please contact our Co-directors: