The project set out to develop practice resources for the Northern Ireland Guardians ad Litem Agency (NIGALA) to more efficiently engage with children and young people involved in Court proceedings in order to ascertain their wishes and feelings in relation to their situation, ensure their wishes and feelings are heard in court, provide information and feedback to children and young people about their court proceedings, and promote their active participation in the court process.
At what level did the PPI take place?
- One to one;
- Service development/delivery.
PPI helped the project to:
- Improve quality;
- Increase ownership.
As part of a broader engagement process with children and young people, which commenced in 2016, NIGALA is developing resources to promote children’s and young people’s participation in court proceedings.
The first step in this project was to engage with children and young people about office design and décor. This was intended to improve the ‘child friendliness’ of the physical environment of NIGALA’s Belfast office. This consultation process with children and young people has assisted in the development of the suites of characters. These characters have been incorporated into the About Me and My Court Diary resources.
In 2014 with a consultation with a group of young people considered how NIGALA can respond to the experiences of children and young people in the family court system. Carried out in collaboration with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), this engagement recommended that NIGALA produce a children’s report to develop children and young people’s participation with court proceedings and develop resources which are up to date technologically.
The current resources have finally been approved and incorporate the recommendations made during the consultation process in 2014. The resources include two documents, called About Me and About Court and are accompanied by practitioners guidance which outlines the development and rationale of the resources. We aim to be able to use the resources on our portable devices to provide a medium of communication which some children may be more comfortable with.
Aim of involvement.
NIGALA operates to promote engagement and participation in the court process by children and young people. Developing improved resources will enable increased opportunities for children and young people to participate and directly engage with the court process and to have a say about the decisions which are being made about them, while resources which reflect diversity and disability will promote the accessibility of our service to children and young people across the community.
By using the resources, children and young people will be enabled and encouraged to provide feedback on the role of the NIGALA service. This will contribute to improve the processes whereby young people’s views are incorporated into decision making about service delivery.
The main challenge was approaching children and young people who had been the subject of court proceedings for consultation purposes. Guardians were mindful of their previous role with the young people, and keen to distinguish the purpose of the consultation as different. For the main part Guardians found the consultations with the young people were a reciprocally positive experience.
Outcomes due to involvement
The main outcome has been that NIGALA has developed resources to engage with children and young people and to promote children and young people’s participation in their court proceedings, which were co-designed with the young people through consulting with them.
The project has also helped to develop systems and processes whereby the views of children and young people are sought and incorporated into the design, delivery and evaluation of resources. This builds on our broader engagement process, which has included consultation relating to office design and media involvement in the courts.
Guardians are continuing to use the About Me and About Court documents and their reports about the effectiveness of the resources has been positive.
2016 – current.
For further information, contact:
Teresa Fallon (Assistant Director, NIGALA)
Tel: 028 9536 1607