Contextual Safeguarding Toolkit

Youth Participatory Engagement

Systems and Structures

In order to truly grasp and respond to young people’s experiences of harm, contextual approaches to safeguarding need to be informed and shaped by the realities of young people across the various contexts of their lives. Asking young people their views about safety in their local area gave the Contextual Safeguarding team in Hackney valuable insight into what Contextual Safeguarding meant to them and, on some occasions, revealed the discrepancy between places professionals might consider safe and where young people think they are safe. Young people we spoke with generally said they don’t think adolescents are consulted or considered in matters related to development in their communities. They spoke about normalised experiences of violence and harm, such as gender-based violence, occurring across a range of contexts including schools, peer relationships and social media. They also highlighted the negative perception many adolescents have of police responses to experiences of harm and insisted on the importance for professionals to get to know young people rather than offer solely punitive or excluding responses.

Resources available on this page

The Contextual Safeguarding team in Hackney has engaged with young people in a number of ways. The team set up a youth panel, named Hackney elite, which have been instrumental to helping professionals better understand issues and concerns in their local area and shaping contextual approaches. Hackney Elite informed neighbourhood assessments in Hackney, developed a training video on using Snapchat for professionals (see video below), designed and organised a community event, spoke at a number of public events and engaged with professionals on a range of issues, sharing critical feedback, advice and idea. To find out more about how the team has worked with the youth panel so far, listen to podcasts recorded with Hackney Elite and with the Contextual Safeguarding practitioners who run the panel , and read the ‘Community Conversation’ guide produced by one of the participation workers, in collaboration with Hackney Elite. The Snapchat training video produced by Hackney Elite is also available on YouTube and feature on BBC news.

Furthermore, the ‘Youth Engagement Methods’, ‘Student Survey’ and ‘Student Engagement’ documents on this page outline a range of participatory methods that were used by the Hackney Contextual Safeguarding team to engage with young people (including Hackney Elite, school students and young people in the wider community) to inform contextual assessments and approaches. Lastly, the podcasts ‘What is participatory engagement’ and ‘Contextual Safeguarding in the Voluntary Sector: Using participatory methods' explore in more depth the concept of participation and its practical application.

Hackney Youth Panel's Snapchat training video


Youth Participatory Engagement

Youth Engagement Methods

Youth engagement methods and resources for working with young people to inform contextual approaches.

Youth Participatory Engagement

Community Conversations

This document shares how Hackney's youth panel has planned a 'community conversation event' and provides guidance for planning similar events.

Youth Participatory Engagement

Student Survey

This student wellbeing survey can be used by schools to help understand student experiences of safety and harm. The guidance includes a survey template that can be adapted for different schools and concerns.

Youth Participatory Engagement

Student Engagement Guidance

This guidance outlines how to engage students views and opinions on what affects their safety through a more in-depth session.


Youth Participatory Engagement

What is participatory engagement?

In this podcast Dr Camille Warrington (International Centre) introduces the idea of participatory engagement with young people and explores the different ways engagement can occur. This podcast was originally published on the Our Voices website as part of the International Centre's Our Voices programme of work.

Youth Participatory Engagement

Setting up a youth panel

In this podcast Ciara Burke (Contextual Safeguarding practitioner) shares her experience of setting up a youth panel to inform the Contextual Safeguarding project in Hackney and reflects on learning from this process.

Youth Participatory Engagement

What contextual safeguarding means to Hackney's youth panel

Hackney's youth panel, 'Hackney Elite', reflect on what contextual safeguarding means to them and talk about their work with the Contextual Safeguarding team in Hackney.

Youth Participatory Engagement

Contextual Safeguarding in the Voluntary Sector: Using participatory methods

In this podcast Abi Billinghurst (Abianda) discusses participatory methods, and its importance for Contextual Safeguarding in the voluntary sector.