Involving children and young people (CYP) in service and research design improves quality and accessibility. Running events in schools to invite CYP to volunteer and explore careers in the NHS may contribute to uptake of training posts and developing the NHS workforce.
Here we evaluate two activities with CYP, our Young Person’s Advisory Group for research (eye-YPAG) and our workshop for secondary schools, ‘visually’.
We evaluated eye-YPAG in focus groups and online surveys with group members, parents/carers, researchers, facilitators and funders. We conducted thematic analysis and descriptive statistics. To evaluate ‘visually’, we monitored the numbers of workshops and young people applying for volunteering roles. We asked those who started working with us about their experience.
eye-YPAG members valued social and creative aspects as well as learning about research and developing skills and confidence. Researchers reported that CYP gave novel suggestions, modifying research plans, and that their different perspective was helpful in making research more relevant for children and families.
Over 6 months, we held 15 ‘visually’ workshops in secondary schools. Ninety students applied for volunteering roles, and 20 have completed the Human Resources onboarding process. Young volunteers report that this work has increased their confidence and that they have gained insights into how a hospital works. One is considering training to become an orthoptist.
Both eye-YPAG and ‘visually’ are available to all eye researchers and units in the UK and can facilitate outreach activities
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