Young People’s Participation

Working to improve mental health services for young people under 25 years old in Norfolk and Suffolk

Participation means getting involved and having a say about how we support children and young people who use our services and giving you the chance to have input into how the Trust is run.

It’s about making services better for everyone.

We know that by valuing everyone’s individual experiences to make changes to the way we deliver care, the outcomes for people are better. Anyone and everyone can be involved in participation, including you!

Participation can come in many forms, from young people panels joining interviews, joining a group, being involved in projects, and redesigning services.

Young People’s Stories



“My participation journey began while I was in therapy. Making YouTube videos was helping with my recovery, and I showed one to my therapist. She asked if I would like to use my creativity to help with participation and put me in touch with Lucy. Lucy and I had a video call, I was anxious, but she was so open with me about her recovery and put me at ease.

Lucy and I spoke a few more times and then I felt confident enough to join the Young People’s Participation Group. I remember three of us went along regularly, I didn’t turn my camera on at first but after a while I felt like I could. At the group I felt like my voice was heard for the first time since being under services. It made me feel validated and gave me a sense of purpose. I had a job so couldn’t attend every time; it was fine to go along when I could. The groups were fun to go to – at Christmas we had a quiz, and all wore Christmas jumpers!

I was offered the chance to get involved in other projects and going to the group had given me the confidence to do this. The first thing I did was attend staff Leadership Training online and speak about my experience of using services. Lucy helped me to prepare for this and although it was scary, I felt empowered, like I was doing something meaningful, and my voice was being heard.

After this, I took part in lots of other participation opportunities including attending a Participation Committee Meeting where I presented a video I’d made about my mental health recovery journey to professionals. This gave me valuable skills, I later used when applying for my current job. The biggest thing I did was take part in a video about communication which was very professional and exciting – it was like being a movie star!!

Participation has helped me gain confidence, build my self-esteem, learn new IT skills, become more confident about public speaking (which I never thought I could do) and helped me overcome my anxiety. It also made it easier to transition over to adult services.

I’m still involved with participation, it’s a part of my job with the Trust and I help to deliver Participation Training to new starters. During training I tell my story and share what other participants have said. I wish participation was something I could’ve got involved in when I had my initial assessment - I would’ve been able to help make changes sooner and get better quicker!”

Parent/Carer Stories

Debbie’s Story

I first became involved with NSFT Children, Families and Young People’s Services when my daughter needed support with her mental health. As a parent, I didn’t feel as involved as I could have been and would’ve liked some things done differently.At the time, there wasn’t a participation team to contact. If there had of been, I would have wanted more information so I could get involved and have my voice heard.

Several years later, when I was accessing services, my mental health worker told me about an opportunity to participate by sitting on NSFT interview panels; this allows people using services to help choose future staff members. I liked this idea and was keen to pursue it further. My support worker passed my details on, and the participation team got in touch with me. I was a bit worried, but I needn’t have been, as I was given training by NSFT staff who put me at ease and made it easy to understand.  Afterwards, I was excited to get going! I still look forward to sitting on interview panels as it makes me feel valued.

Through this work, I found out about other participation opportunities, in particular working with Children, Families and Young People’s People Participation Coordinator, Andrea. I met Andrea at a participation event. She took my details and emailed me to arrange a first meeting. In a very short space of time, we met in a community setting where I felt at ease.  Over the course of a few meetings, Andrea made me feel comfortable and settled and I was able to give my thoughts and views. The lived experience element of her role really helped as she seemed to understand my experiences. Since meeting up, I’ve given feedback for lots of projects including wording of letters, website development ideas and have even chosen the colour of a reception area! We meet regularly, in a location of my choice for roughly an hour. Andrea is always flexible on dates, times, and meeting spaces. She also checks I feel comfortable each time.

I’ve been participating for several years now and in that time, I’ve been able to see the benefits of participation as both a parent/carer and using services myself. These include:

  • Feeling I haven’t failed as a parent – I’ve passed my knowledge and experience on
  • My self-esteem has raised - as a family we’ve come out the other side
  • Knowing I can help and play a part in change
  • I feel heard
  • I’ve seen things change for the better

If you’re thinking about getting involved with participation, I’d say to go ahead and make contact, you really won’t regret it!

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