In Our Own Words - Youth Researchers

Welcome to the In Our Own Words page! Thanks for checking us out.

Are you passionate about young people's mental health? Do you want to meet new people, grow your skills in planning, teamwork, and communication? Want to make a difference in your local community? Then this opportunity may be for you.

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What is In Our Own Words?

In Our Own Words is a project for young carers and neurodivergent young people as lived experience experts. The project trains and supports young people to become researchers to understand other young people's experiences of mental health and wellbeing as well as mental health services. It's a peer-led project where young people lead their own research and decide what areas of mental health and wellbeing they want to look into.

The User Voice and Participation team are working with organisations that work in mental health and research. This includes Mindworks, Surrey University, Surrey Youth Focus and Healthwatch.

Taking place March to October 2024, Youth Researchers will be trained by professional researchers from Surrey University, learning skills in social research. Social research uses questionnaires and focus groups, to understand our behaviour, attitudes, and experiences and how these may relate to the environment, society and specific events or issues.

Supported by a mentor, you will research a mental health or wellbeing topic that interests you and collect data from young people in the community.

Using your research, you will share your findings and make suggestions to leaders in Surrey on what services can do to improve as well as what works well. You'll be feeding back on what other young people think to help improve services for them.

Just like a professional researcher or project advisor, you will be paid hourly for your time.

We have provided further information about the project including how much time it will take and what roles are available.

Who can take part?

We are looking for young carers and neurodivergent young people (no diagnosis required) aged 14 to 18 (up to 25 for additional needs and disabilities) to be our Youth Researchers.

If you would like to be involved in the project but you aren't neurodivergent or a young carer you can still apply, for a supporting role as a Project Advisor. A Project Advisor will not take part in the monthly research training but will join later to help Youth Researchers explore their findings and help present the findings to decision makers in Surrey.

The programme is for young people living, attending school or college and / or accessing services in Surrey. Therefore, young people who may not necessarily live in the county but have a 'connection' to Surrey are also encouraged to apply.

No experience is required. Just enthusiasm and commitment to the project. As well as the desire to share the experiences of young people.

Getting involved

Applications are now open for our Youth Researcher group. You have from the 7 February to 12 March (extended from 6 March) to apply.

We have 10 Youth Researcher spaces up for grabs and more supporting roles for Research Advisors.

Youth Researcher applicants, please save the date for Saturday 23 March, when we will have our programme induction.

You will need to apply via a short form. If you would like to apply by video or audio, or may need any other accessibility adjustments, please email and we will be happy to support you.

Apply to be a Youth Researcher

Please note: We will give travel vouchers to young people who need support with transport related costs to access the training sessions.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, then do get in contact with us through our email or our socials @ourvoicesurrey

What is a peer-led approach?

In Our Own Words takes a 'Peer-led' approach.

Peer-led research is where people with a lived experience of the topics for example, mental health, have a key role in choosing the research and carrying out the research itself.

This is important as it gives power and voice to the community the research is about and makes sure that the findings are accurate and helpful to them.

It's all about doing research with people instead of about them.

When will the project be happening?

March to October 2024.

The training sessions will take place on weekday evenings. There will be two 2-hour sessions a month for the first 3 months of training. After training is completed, there will be one 2-hour sessions a month over the summer holidays.

Our Induction Day, however, will be held on Saturday 23 March.

If I am not a young carer or neurodivergent, can I still take part?

Yes! You can still apply for this project, but your role will be slightly different. If you apply and get through, you will be a Project Advisor.

A Project Advisor will not take part in the monthly research training but will join later to help Youth Researchers explore their findings and come up with suggestions about what young people may need. You can also have a role in presenting these findings to key decision makers in Surrey.

When is the deadline to apply?

The deadline to apply is Tuesday 12 March at 6pm.

Apply to be a Youth Researcher

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