Working with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to kickstart the Child Friendly Rotherham initiative with children and young people 

The beginning

The Assistant Director of Early Help and Family Engagement at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) got in touch with Co:Create in December 2016 to share his vision of Rotherham becoming a child centred borough. He wanted to see children and young people’s views become central to all of RMBC’s work from designing transport planning to delivering town centre regeneration. The first step in RMBC’s plans was to consult with staff to highlight where good practice was already happening and where improvements could be made. 

 

Co-designing the initiative  

Co:Create’s core values centre on customers and practitioners leading initiatives together, equally and throughout the whole process. It was key for us, then, that this initiative start with hearing from children and young people. There were already a number of council officers involved in working with young people in the borough therefore we started this piece of work by getting them all around the table. The Child Friendly Rotherham Steering Group was formed and new partnerships and conversations started to emerge. We agreed on a set of core questions to ask children and young people over the following few months: 

  • What's it like growing up in Rotherham? 

  • What's it like being a child or young person in Rotherham? 

  • How could we make it better? 

We tested these questions with the dedicated members of the Rotherham Youth Cabinet and they helped us add in the question – do you know where to go if you have something to say? 

 

Co-delivering the initiative

Co:Create worked with a design agency to deliver a community journalism project. Eight young people in Rotherham aged 11-15 years old spent a week learning how to use cameras and edit footage. They interviewed over 25 people in Rotherham both other young people, children, parents and older people to ask them how Rotherham could become more child friendly. The community journalists helped to kick start this initiative in a truly coproduced way, the results of which can be watched here: www.ourrotherham.com 

 

Co-governing the initiative

Co:Create’s work with RMBC on this initiative reached it’s pinnacle at a workshop in October 2017. RMBC council members, officers and children and young people came together to reflect on all the consultation to date and start to put an action plan together. Children said they wanted Rotherham to be cleaner, safer, have more things to do and to be heard – some pretty straightforward requests that RMBC are already acting on. Everyone who attended the workshop agreed that the initiative should continue to be steered in this way, with a group of customers and practitioners co-governing and co-decision making.  

 

Co-evaluating the initiative

And so the story ends… (well, almost). This wouldn’t be a truly coproduced project without a chance to co-evaluate its effectiveness. RMBC are keen to have us back in a year’s time where our Over2You service will work with children and young people to test the metal of this piece of work and help sustain the excellent coproduction that has been delivered to date. 

Emma Ward