The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland's Participation Officer, Elaine Kerridge, sits on the Participation Network steering group. The Participation Network offers the opportunity for anyone interested in participation to share ideas and learn from each other. New members are always welcome. 

Elaine co-chaired the start of a recent in-person participation event in Glasgow, and shares here what she valued most from the experience.

"I was exhausted after our in-person event in Glasgow. But it was a happy tired. A gladness from a day well spent in the company of like-minded colleagues, from across Scotland.

The idea of networking might bring on a fear of standing awkwardly in a room of strangers, hoping desperately someone will talk to you, or indeed no one will talk to you! Thankfully, neither were true for me at our Participation Network event in Glasgow.

For me, the venue was a welcoming, relaxed and creative space. It was not a place to stand on ceremony; far more likely you would sprawl on a brightly-coloured beanbag. There was a pleasant, welcoming buzz from people as soon as I arrived, with a cheery welcome from those volunteering to meet and greet on the day.

We aimed to start the official programme off in a friendly way, sharing what we hoped the vibe of the day would be, that of a positive participative approach – relaxed, creative, friendly, safe and of course optional.

The best thing for me was seeing people from so many different organisations learning from each other. I found the speakers and those leading workshops to be relaxed and approachable. Everyone was open to sharing their emerging practice, chatting about what worked and what didn’t. A variety of creative activities were on offer, which I loved. Who doesn’t want to learn how to make an old school paper ‘fortune teller’ and use it in our work?

Importantly, children and young people’s voices and experiences played a central role in our learning. I hope the next steps for the Participation Network will ensure more of them play a role in its development. 

A huge thanks to Staf for making this event happen. They continue to go above and beyond to deliver the Participation Network. I for one am very grateful."