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Starting a Participation Group

Troy shares about how work experience at Wakefield Council opened up a wider future in Participation.

After hearing all about Troy’s journey into Participation whilst he was at high school, we found out what happened once he started college…

Troy takes part in Participation

What was your college experience like ?

Well, my journey continued and got better. I was in a special needs college, Highfield School, where you did Maths and English, but also work experience, travel, and skills training. It helped me build my confidence and gain life skills.

I was there for 3 years, from when I was 16 until I was 19 years of age.

When did you expand your Participation skills?

It was in the second year. I was in a class where we were doing lots of work experience. Wakefield Council contacted the school to say they needed 3 young people to help them on a project. So when our teacher asked me to take part, I said “Well, why me?”. And they said “Because we think you’ll be fantastic!” Which was lovely to hear. And I thought I’d be good at this too, so it was a great fit! So I got introduced to the Participation Officer at Wakefield Council.

Were you confident with your new role?

No, I was definitely a little shy at the start. But once I talked to them and got interested in what they were doing, I thought how good this would be. This is where I should be. This is what I should be doing.

And it was great. We were making a difference. We were helping with respite services for children and people to get more swimming baths, or helping them get more involved with activities, going out with friends, getting them to socialising more. And it made me think this could be good.

Troy goes to London to take part in participation

How long was the work experience for?

We did it for about 5 months, until the July of that college year. And then after that experience, we got other people involved in talking about how respite services can help. We invited other schools who had respite services for their students to come and talk to us – to talk about what they wanted to change & how they wanted it to change. It became this bigger thing. Different schools and different classes and needs, all within high school and college age groups.

Your aim was to change things within your school and others?

Yes, it was our own Participation Group in school, with the support of Wakefield Council. We created a steering group for how we could improve the way things were. And then we could share this with other schools to help them change their services for the better.

That’s amazing. What was your plan for your future at that point?

I was in a new academic year and trying to work out what I wanted to. And I kind of wanted to go back to the Council and do more work experience with them. So I spoke to them and they said yes.

In the previous year we couldn’t go into their offices because of the pandemic, so we’d had to do our work in college and be socially-distant. But this time round I could actually go into work with them, into their offices at County Hall. Some weeks I’d still work from college, but it was great when I went into the offices because I could learn a lot of practical things. 

What kind of practical things did you learn?

I learned a lot about administration. I got to do printing, laminating and emails. And I’m super proud of the work because I was part of the launch of this Participation Group, along with helping pilot a new Brain in Hand app.

By the end of the work experience I got an award and letter saying how good my work had been. And that’s great for me, because any future employer can look at this and know I will be a good worker. 

“I thought how good this would be. This is where I should be. This is what I should be doing.”


Troy discovers his passion

How did the group grow?

It was hard at first, because young people didn’t know what it was about. They didn’t want to join. So we went to schools with leaflets and spoke to them. We also created a Facebook page in a way for people to learn more, and a WhatsApp group so we could share information easily between us all.

We had our first meeting and we asked young people what they wanted to group to be called. We decided on Shout Out For Change.

Shout Out For Change was born! What happened next?

We could then think about logos. I designed a logo for the group, that we could also have on goodie bags and other things we give out. The goodie bags are to say thank you to the young people at the end of a meeting, to say we really enjoyed your input & knowledge.

KIDS then came to Wakefield to actually help us launch it. The Council reached out to KIDS and their Participation Collective to help with the whole set-up, which started us off.

Shout Out For Change still work with KIDS now. We take part in Collective Power Hours, or the annual Get Together (like the one this August 25th)

How has your role changed?

As we learned more, we started to go out and help other groups. We now deliver speeches and help other groups to support their young people. We can show other Councils how we’ve done things and how they can improve, too.

We have 10 young people in Shout Out For Change, all between 14 to 25 years old. We all have different needs, different disabilities, different learning needs or autism.
Someone runs the meetings and I normally take the minutes with all the notes. That makes sense because I also manage the Facebook page and WhatsApp group as well.

What are your meetings like?

We meet maybe 4 or 5 times a year, on average. Sometimes more. We meet and discuss things like improving education, improving transport, improving libraries, and working across all kinds of issues that young people face today, like the cost of living crisis.

Sounds interesting. Are there next steps?

We’ve been trying for the past few months to set a co-production charter for Wakefield. To get businesses and professionals to commit to helping make a change.

Support services like police, libraries, parks and others.

There’s another group I’m part of – Build Our Futures. This is the same kind of format, but Build Our Futures is just based on making change in Wakefield. Shout Out For Change is also about change in Wakefield, but we focus on making national changes, too.

Do you find that you’re listened to? Are changes made?

I think it takes time, but I think we have made real differences. We get somewhere because professionals listen to us and realise change needs to happen.

At our meetings, we always get updates on what’s happening and where things are with any projects. So we then know what we’re working on, and what to talk about.

What’s your advice for other young people who are interested in Participation?

Reach out to your career counsellor and see if they can help introduce some good work experience. Or you could reach out to your local council (maybe via your school or a parent) and see if they have a Participation Team that you could get involved with.

If you’re really passionate about it, don’t wait for opportunities to come along – find a way and do it!

Troy's tips for Participation and getting involved


  • Preferred Name: Órla
  • Role at KIDS: Wellbeing co-ordinator.
  • About me: I run the online well-being groups and a group in Wandsworth. I am also a playworker! I have a background in Art therapy. 
  • Fun facts: I love different wheels! I have roller-skates, a surf-skate board and a bike. 


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