My name is Mike Beall, I’m 25 years old and I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

My experience with KIDS started with the Young People’s Engagement Group (YPEG). This led to applying for the Regional Participation Team which involves delivering training to local authorities and working together with the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) to deliver a workshop at the third National Participation Conference.

We’ve now delivered training to a number of local authorities on a wide variety of topics including; involving young people in recruitment, activities that enabled professionals to experience the emotions that a young person may feel, as well as doing ice-breaker activities which are always a lot of fun.  

Making Participation Work conference
I was asked to co-chair the conference in London on February 24th 2017. This was actually the second time I co-chaired this type of conference, having done the first one in Manchester last year. Both conferences went really well and  made me feel very important. I also felt honoured because after doing one conference they asked to do another one. As co-chair, I had the opportunity to go and watch some of the other workshops provided by youth organizations. One group in particular intrigued me. Their name was Chatterboxes and the stories they shared and the message they were giving out was really interesting. 

(Here is Mike at the recent Making Participation Work Conference talking about how being part of the YPEG group has improved his confidence and independence from his mum).

The Regional Participation Team delivered a workshop at the conference with our topic being; Young people’s views on the barriers and benefits to participation. We discussed the benefits of effective participation to young people, local services, communities, and the local authorities.

We have asked over 400 professionals what they feel the barriers to participation are. Having time to support participation was identified as the top barrier, with communication challenges, lack of opportunity, resources and costs all featuring in the top five. Professionals also worried that participation is sometimes tokenistic and that this de-valued young people’s views.

It has felt really good to be part of the participation work. I hope it continues and make a lasting impact.