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AVA’s Participation Project and Toolkit

AVA was funded by the Big Lottery Fund to empower young people to learn about, challenge and respond to domestic and sexual violence.  This work has focused on ensuring that young people’s voices and experiences are heard, valued and included in service design and delivery.

Over the past three years we have worked with experts around the country including:

  • Chilypep in Sheffield
  • Sheffield Young Women’s Housing Project
  • Rotherham Rise
  • Rotherham Integrated Youth Support Service
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • The London Borough of Sutton and Limes College, Sutton
  • Changing Lives (formerly Platform 51) in Doncaster and West Kent

Over three years, across our three main sites, we trained 57 young people as accredited peer educators. They went on to design inspirational resources, develop and facilitate innovative group-work programmes to other young people and influence policy makers, commissioners, practitioners and politicians.

The overall aim of the AVA project was:

“To deliver therapeutic group work and leadership development to disadvantaged and marginalized young people in order to improve their understanding of domestic and sexual violence, to improve their emotional wellbeing and to empower them to influence peers and also to advocate for the needs of themselves and others within social care and education services.”

There were two strands of work: 

1. To pilot a therapeutic group work model with young women across two project sites in Sheffield and Rotherham, focused on improving their emotional wellbeing and their awareness of domestic and sexual violence. This involved a six-week programme of workshops exploring the effects and impacts of domestic abuse, spotting the signs of abusive relationships and improving knowledge of services supporting victims.

2. To pilot a youth leadership development (Youth Educators) in four areas of the UK, to improve young people’s emotional wellbeing, their understanding of domestic and sexual violence and that of their peers, whilst increasing opportunities for and the abilities of young people to influence services aimed at them in relation to domestic and sexual violence. This involved young people taking part in accredited leadership and campaigning training and developing an action plan to take forward in their area. Young people taking part were required to undertake Domestic Abuse Awareness Raising training before they took part in the leadership course, to ensure they had enough understanding of DSA in its wider context.

The main outcomes for the project that we hoped to achieve were that: 

1. Young people directly taking part in the project report improved emotional wellbeing and peer support

2. Young people directly taking part in the project and their peers demonstrate improved understanding of domestic and sexual violence, accessing support and advising friends

3. Young people directly taking part in the project will increase their skills and abilities to influence the way young people’s services are delivered

The AVA Toolkit on Youth Participation

Over the course of our project we have learnt a lot about participation and young people and this toolkit is designed to:

  • Help you understand the different types of participation
  • Share challenges and best practice
  • Hear directly from young people and practitioners
  • Explore participation with survivors of gender-based violence
  • Showcase innovative work
  • Share resources and activities developed by our partner projects and peer educators
  • Share our domestic and sexual abuse awareness training programme
  • Share our accredited peer education and leadership training programmes

The Full Toolkit is here-