Running digital meetings with young people
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic our YPAG members have been involved in at least 14 digital YPAG meetings so far between March and August this year (2020). We have been exploring how to make involvement of young people more inclusive and meaningful using digital approaches.
Written with the Work Experience Team on behalf of the NeurOX YPAG: Jessica Katz, Liana Lewis, Saskia Oosterveld, Niamh Walker. Please contact: Vanessa Bennett for further information firstname.lastname@example.org .
Setting up a digital YPAG group
- Every digital YPAG should agree a Terms of Reference/Contract between researchers and members to confirm commitments for both parties.
- Share initial briefing guidance and ‘house rules’ with safeguarding information.
- Researchers should also be aware of these rules, and have a safeguarding protocol with designated roles for researchers.
How to ensure meaningful involvement of young people
- Openly ask young people’s opinions.
- Moving forward in the project, keep the young people updated and try to continually consult with them.
- Not a check box activity, treat the young people as additional researchers (not tools for the research)
- Make young people feel valued as co-researchers; take on board their suggestions and feedback when you move your plans forward.
- If possible, consider giving young people the opportunity (optional) to get involved with the research project in more depth, throughout or later in your project.
- Using digital approaches could enable more young people to access and support research.
How to make involvement more accessible and open to diverse groups
- Make digital involvement accessible from phone as well – not everyone has a computer.
- Make your research easy to understand; appropriate for their age, try not to use scientific language so that it is accessible to all ages and level of knowledge/ability; use diagrams and provide resources so they can follow along.
- Present manageable chunks at a time for briefings and review (don’t overwhelm them).
- Give young people time to review information, before and during the session, and opportunities to ask questions – so they can check understanding and enhance their knowledge.
- Promote the idea of not holding a position of non-privilege over others.
- Having ‘Ground rules’ that foster respect and non-judgement help (see our meeting ground rules)!
- Advocate that the mental health, wellbeing and safeguarding of group members is important – ensure you can support the young people (see setting up the meeting below).
Benefits and challenges of digital approaches
|Definitely being forced to keep in touch
|Connection issues and technical difficulties.
|Some people feel more comfortable in their own
home instead of having to travel.
|Harder to share thoughts because you don’t want to
speak over people (encourage use of hands up).
|Not having to travel is a massive plus
(more accessible for people who live further away).
|Some people prefer to be off-camera – can be off-putting for
those on camera too.
|Easier to fit around other commitments
(e.g. Saturday work, sport).
|Don’t get some aspects of communication that you get in person
– body language.
Potential impact of digital involvement on diversity of the group
- Opportunity to recruit young people from diverse groups and background – this could be targeted to include groups who may currently be underrepresented in research.
- But still try to make the group as organic as possible – don’t want it to be tokenistic
- Making the website and platforms used accessible to different groups could encourage wider involvement.
- Make it clear, on your website or all places with info about YPAGs, that it is a very accepting supportive community.
- May make it easier for different ‘groups’ of young people to interact.
How to plan digital sessions: before the meeting
- Let members know about the meeting at least a month in advance – this helps us to plan groups, breakout sessions and guest sessions.
- Planning session – briefing with co-facilitators.
- Thinking about the research and most appropriate platforms – what can be done in groups, size of groups (max 5 per breakout group), a mix of on- and off-line involvement and breaks.
- How guest sessions will work and pre-meeting briefings.
- Hold a short briefing meeting for peer co-facilitators with a lead researcher responsible for safeguarding, and possibly a designated peer wellbeing supervisor (something new we are considering).
- Send out any pre-reading material in advance or a Padlet – about 1 week before.
- Release agenda night before (via email and WhatsApp) and repeat any relevant pre-reading materials or activities with a reminder of the meeting date and time) – allows some people to feel more prepared and comfortable.
- Anonymous feedback and check on availability for next YPAG meeting if necessary.
How we run the digital sessions
- Role of co-facilitators
- Young people that feel comfortable speaking in front of everyone (especially in the main group – not just breakout rooms).
- To support help make sure that all young people feel comfortable talking and included.
- Similar age to YP to establish good relationship and more likely to contribute.
- Padlets (released before and during meetings)
- For people who aren’t comfortable talking.
- Proposed role of peer designated well-being supervisor (currently researcher role)
- Including everyone’s voice:
- Key supportive role for the young co-facilitators.
- Asking people in turn what they think.
- Use ‘Chat’ to privately message co-facilitators/researchers and pose questions if unsure.
- Using hand functions (so they don’t feel uncomfortable about accidentally speaking over other people).
- Breakout groups without the researchers visible (can just be on mute).
- Take breaks!
- See our Ground rules, safeguarding and use of Zoom information.