What do I get out of it?

You get to gain new skills and practical experience while carrying out research that has a positive benefit for other young people. You work in a team and make new friends across Dorset. You get to practice your presentation skills as well as having something useful and interesting to talk about at interviews and put on your CV. It includes a 2-day all expenses paid residential and at the end you get a personal reference from Dorset County Council.

What do we research?

Each year Dorset County Council gives us several research topics according to which services are currently under review. This means our research can be acted on and have the biggest impact. In previous years we have researched: why students drop out of Year 12 options; students’ health and happiness and what causes stress; the effects of exam stress; making career choices; how safe young people feel and the effects of bullying. This year’s research topics will be decided by the summer training.

Where do we meet?

We cover the whole of Dorset and ALL come together 3 times during the project. This is at the start during the 2 days summer training in Dorchester. Then at the 2-day residential during autumn half-term and finally at the celebration event in the Easter holidays. From Sept-March you meet once a month in LOCAL GROUPS. During the summer training we work out where everybody lives and then come up with the best places for different groups to meet. Because we cover the whole of Dorset there will be travelling involved.

Do I get help with transport?

Where you live should not be a barrier to joining the project and we will work with you to figure out the best way to get to the meetings. We pay public transport costs.

What happens once I apply?

You will get an acknowledgement that we have received your application and timescales for the next steps. This will include a meeting with the Project Coordinator to discuss any questions you might have. Then you will receive the dates for the summer training.

What does the summer training involve?

We meet for 2 days of training over the summer holidays. These days are in different weeks so if someone is on holiday they don’t miss the whole training. The summer training is about getting to know each other, finding out and choosing your research topics and some basic research training. We also invite some of last year’s Young Researchers so you can learn directly from them.

I’m away over the summer/or working and can’t make the summer training, can I still be involved?

Although we like everyone to attend the initial training we realise sometimes this isn’t possible because of other commitments. In previous years a few people have joined us in September after being away over the summer.

What does the residential involve?

The residential is over 2 days and 1 night. It’s an opportunity work together as a whole team and have fun getting to know each other. We do two outdoor activities that you get to choose as a group (in previous years high ropes and kayaking have been popular choices). It also involves training in qualitative research skills (communication and listening skills and how to run a focus group) and time to work on the research topics.

Where is the residential?

Like much of the project it’s dependent on you and you get to choose the venue during the summer training. Previous Young Researchers have chosen Brenscombe Outdoor Centre in the Purbecks because it has a good selection of outdoor activities.

Is there any cost to being involved?

The project is free and we cover the cost of the residential, food and drink during meetings and travel expenses.

How much time is involved?

2 days training in the summer and a 2-day residential in autumn half term. From Sept- March there are 2 hour monthly meetings and there will be tasks in-between meetings like liaising with the school/college to get our surveys completed. We really value your time and realise you are likely to have exams, part-time jobs and other commitments. So far no Young Researchers have complained that it is too much work to do while studying for their GCSE’s or A levels/BTEC/NVQ.

How do you decide who becomes a Young Researchers?

To make sure we represent the whole of Dorset we are looking for young people who live or study across the county unfortunately Bournemouth and Poole are not included.

Why aren’t Bournemouth and Poole included in Dorset?

Dorset County Council fund the project so only young people who either LIVE OR STUDY in Dorset can be involved. So you could live in Poole but go to school at Lytchett Minster School and that is fine. If you are not sure if you live or study in Dorset please contact Kirsty before completing the form.

How big are the groups that we will be working in?

We can’t say exactly until the summer and we know where everyone is coming from. Our ideal number is 6-8 in each local group but groups have been as big as 12 and as small as 3 people.

What if I don’t like reading and writing?

Research often involves reading and writing but our project doesn’t exclude people who don’t like either. The project is very practical and that is why we work in teams so the young people who like reading do the desk research and those who don’t get on with the practical tasks.

Who do we present the findings to?

Once the research is complete we present our findings to relevant meetings that bring together adults working in education, health, youth and social work. These include conferences, forums, partnerships and Boards. Every young person is guaranteed at least one opportunity to do a presentation.

Who gets involved?

The project attracts a range of different young people which is what we want to make a successful team. Some young people are confident which is great for getting some tasks done and others join to build their confidence – which is also great because this is what the project is about. The common factors are young people who are interested in making a difference and open to making new friends.

What if I am not at school or college?

We aim to include all young people’s experiences in the project so as long as you are between 15-19 years old we would not exclude you from the project and would welcome your involvement.

What if I’m not very confident?

Then this is the perfect project for you to build your confidence, gain new skills and meet new friends.

What is the celebration event?

As a thank you for your involvement, towards the end of the Easter holidays we come together to do an activity of your choice. Previous years have chosen meals out and laser quest.

If this is a Dorset County Council project why is The Participation People involved?

The research we do is for Dorset County Council and they fund the project. The day-to-day running of the project is done by The Participation People whose goal is to make sure young people’s voices are heard.