Children’s project shortlisted for national public engagement award

Researchers at Swansea and Bangor Universities have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for the public engagement work of their project Little Voices Shouting Out.

The project has been shortlisted for the ‘Engaging with Young People’ award, in the national Engage Competition run by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), which celebrates university researchers who engage with the public in innovative and effective ways.

Little Voices Shouting Out is a Big Lottery funded project run by the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People, based at Swansea and Bangor Universities.

The project works with children aged 7-11 in Wales, supporting the children to select research questions and methods, analyse results and make recommendations based on their research.

The project submitted the first ever child-led report from children under 11 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015, and the impact of their work can be seen in the Committee’s 2016 recommendations to the UK and Welsh Governments, including public health issues such as smoking around children’s play spaces and on education and training about children’s rights.  In addition to this international impact, Little Voices’ local research projects have resulted in positive change from small adjustments within schools, from play and the physical environment to potentially far-reaching changes in policy and practice.

Being shortlisted for the NCCPE award is a remarkable achievement – finalists have been selected from over 180 entries which demonstrate a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences.

Professor Elwen Evans QC, Head of the College of Law and Criminology, Swansea University, said:

“We are extremely proud to be part of the only Welsh project shortlisted for this prestigious award. Little Voices Shouting Out is an important initiative providing a platform for engagement of younger children, developing key research and communication skills and enabling decision makers at all levels, from the local to international, to benefit from insights gained from the children’s research. It is a part of our ongoing work on the rights of children and young people, an area to which we are fully committed and determined to make a difference.”

Professor Dermott Cahill, Dean of the Law School, Bangor University, said:

“The combination of Bangor and Swansea Universities in conducting child rights research continues to go from strength to strength; the embedding of Arwyn, a member of Swansea's team in the Law School, in Bangor has yielded excellent results in terms of extending research reach to peripheral rural locations across North Wales thereby enabling the voices of children in these communities to make their way into the national research process.

"Furthermore, Arwyn's work has fostered stronger academic-to-academic collaboration between the two University project research teams, led by Jane Williams and Simon Hoffman in Swansea and Yvonne McDermott Rees and Anne-Marie Smith in Bangor, thus proving that Universities can find effective ways to drive superb research through effective sharing of human intellectual resource and material assets.”

Paul Manners, Director of the NCCPE said: “The Engage Competition is a highlight of our work at the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. It uncovers amazing people, projects, partners and research. This year did not disappoint. The quality of the applications has been higher than ever, showcasing the very best of engagement practice across all disciplines and participant groups - reaching from the very local to the global.”

There are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work. The winners will be decided on the 28th November, before being announced at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, on 29th November 2016.

Publication date: 11 November 2016