Three young people supported by Barnardo's standing beside Barnardo's voice and influence team staff and a Barnardo's practitioner at our summer parliamentary reception

Empowering children and young people

We believe that children and young people should have opportunities to have their voices heard and be taken seriously in decisions that affect them.

We recognise this is their right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and this leads to better decision-making and improved services. 

We use the phrase ‘voice and influence’ to describe different ways we listen to and act on the views and lived experiences of children and young people – this can range from consultation and participation to co-design and co-production. 

Our vision for children and young people’s voice and influence 

We are committed to ensuring the voices and lived experiences of children and young people routinely inform, shape and influence what we say, how we work and the decisions we make and those we seek to inform and influence externally. 

To get us there, we have a five-point plan: 

  1. Embed a shared vision, understanding and approach.  
  2. Better coordinate, monitor and evidence the impact of children and young people’s voice and influence. 
  3. Offer a diverse range of meaningful opportunities for children and young people to inform and influence decision-making, internally and externally.  
  4. Strengthen the quality of our voice and influence work, ensuring it is always safe, ethical, inclusive and meaningful.  
  5. Strengthen our external profile as leaders in voice and influence practice and advocates of children and young people’s views and lived experiences. 

How young people have been involved in our work

Here are five examples of how young people have recently been involved in our work, putting our vision into practice: 

In shaping our new corporate strategy and brand: Young people have been front and centre in the development of our new corporate strategy and rebrand – this has included participating in our initial research and ‘discovery’ work, engaging in some ‘user testing’, and directly co-creating aspects of our brand identity. 

In informing our policy and influencing work: We have supported young people to attend and contribute to political party conferences for the first time, to share their views and lived experiences around the Online Safety Bill and cost-of-living crisis 

In contributing to our fundraising work: young people regularly contribute to our Individual Giving supporter newsletter, to share their experiences of working with Barnardo’s and the different opportunities they get involved in with those who regularly donate to the charity. 

In recruiting new colleagues: young people are now routinely involved in recruiting new staff to the charity at all levels, from project workers to assistant directors of children’s services – including to the most senior roles in the charity, such as the recruitment of our CEO, Lynn Perry

In carrying out research: In our Care Journeys core priority programme, we supported a group of care-experienced parents to undertake a piece of peer research to find out about the lived experiences of other care-experienced parents. We delivered this project using our Peer Researcher Guidance and Toolkit

Contact the Voice and Influence Team

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CEO Lynn Perry, Jake, Dasha and actress Michelle Collins standing outside number 10 Downing street, holding our petition and a box of signatures

Taking our free school meals petition to Downing Street

We interview Dasha and Jake, two young people supported by Barnardo's, about what it was like to take our free school meals petition to the government to call for more support for struggling families.

Parliamentary reception crowd, looking forward at the speakers presenting the research

Barnardo's parliamentary reception

In July 2023, Barnardo's held its annual summer reception in Parliament to raise our concern that the cost-of-living crisis is causing more children to be at risk of exploitation, with the help of young people who have been supported by our services.

Boy sitting at a table beside his Barnardo's support worker, smiling at the camera

Support for young people

Explore the kinds of support that we offer young people with our guidance and services.