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How it works
The Bright Sparks project involves recruiting young disabled volunteers and training them to become consultants to support the development of an inclusive community. 15 young people between the ages of 6 and 20 have been involved so far.
A key part of the young peoples’ role has been to visit facilities and services in their local area as ‘secret shoppers’ to assess the quality of provision for disabled children and young people. Their experience of the service they receive is marked against set criteria which determine whether the venue in question should receive a Bright Sparks Kite Mark, to display in their venue, or whether they have more work to do in order to receive one.
The young people feed back to the managers of all the venues and, for those that have not been successful in achieving a Kite Mark, recommendations for how they can improve their services. The venues are supported by Halton Speak Out young consultants and staff throughout the process to help them make their venue inclusive for all young people.
The project also employs two young people, Dan and Stephen, to work as ‘Bright Sparks Co-Workers’, supported by a Project Worker. They attend meetings with businesses that are being supported to achieve a Kitemark, help create resources for the project, write up reports, and much more.
What has been achieved?
Feedback from services has been overwhelmingly positive and the young people involved enjoy having their views actively heard and supporting venues and services to become inclusive for all young people and their families. ‘I like Kitemarking and meeting new people’ says Dan, one of the Bright Sparks Co-workers ‘I like to help my Co-Worker with helping business’ when visiting them.’
The Bright Sparks Project is a great example of meaningful participation of disabled children and young people in consulting on and ultimately changing the services they receive, as well as promoting inclusivity in the community and building the confidence, aspirations and skills of local young people. The means of assessing the quality of provision of local services that this project utilises could have great potential as a means of quality-checking services across the country, particularly those listed in the local offer.
Halton Speak Out are continuing their Kite Marking project by inspecting new venues, working with unsuccessful venues and reassessing venues which already received Kite Marks, to make sure they still meet the agreed criteria. Keep an eye out for their work if you’re in Halton! They are also continuing to update their resources, made to support the young consultants and the businesses they work with.
Find out more about Halton Speak Out on their website: www.haltonspeakout.co.uk
The Bright Sparks Kitemark project is funded as part of the Innovation and Sustainability Grant, run by CDC and funded by the Department for Education.