Involving young people in strategic and operational decision making structures so that their views are embedded into all service developments and decisions is crucial for their meaningful involvement and to underpin their involvement in commissioning.

The National Youth Agency guidelines state that young people should be involved at every stage of commissioning young people’s services and offers a standards framework to work within, which we have adapted and piloted in Sheffield.

The Chilypep Young Commissioners framework and model draw on and reflect a range of good practice examples and incorporate the National Youth Agency Hear by Right Standards for Involving young people.

It shows how young people can be meaningfully involved at every stage of the commissioning process, and has been piloted by Chilypep in partnership with Sheffield City Council to commission a range of services for young people in the City

Alongside this we have developed a training programme for young people* that gives them the skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to take part as genuine partners with commissioners in the commissioning of services for them.

Top tips for involving young people in commissioning**.

  1. Trust young people – their involvement will add an interesting perspective that may not be considered by adults.
  2. Avoid tokenism, young people’s involvement needs to add value to the process.
  3. Make clear young people’s roles and ensure they understand the parameters of their involvement.
  4. Young people’s involvement should be as flexible as possible, and should not be a one-off contribution.
  5. Young people’s involvement does not have to be through formal decision making process, they can be involved through informal and indirect ways.
  6. Allow sufficient time for young people to be involved in commissioning processes.
  7. Involving young people in commissioning processes will require support and training to ensure they understand the complexities and legalities.
  8. Ensure clear and timely feedback to young people on their involvement and what’s changed in relation to their involvement and commissioning outcomes. This will help ensure the process is an empowering and motivating one.
  9. Involving young people in the commissioning process should be fun and a positive outcome for young people.
  10. Recognise and celebrate young people’s involvement.

*(adapted from Northamptonshire County Councils’ Involving Young People in Commissioning Toolkit)
** National Youth Agency

Stages of Commissioning Commissioning Standard
(HbR/Quality Mark indicator)
Activity involving Young People
– clarifying local outcomes, needs, resources and priorities
Understanding –
1. There is a central commitment for the active involvement of young people in the commissioning of young people’s services.
2. Resources for the active involvement of young people in commissioning services have been identified including key staff roles and resources.
3. Young people involved in commissioning have appropriate skills and support to allow them to participate fully in the commissioning process.
4. A range of approaches are in place that encourage and enable the participation of a diverse range of young people in commissioning young people’s services in their own terms and in ways they feel comfortable with.
Understanding – existing service providers consult with young people to identify young people’s priorities that in turn inform the needs analysis.Assessing needs – through sharing life
stories/experiences, workshops, conferences, voting, using photos/pictures, surveys and video making.Identifying resources and setting priorities – using workshops, ranking/voting sessions, debates and focus groups.
– considering different ways in which the desired outcomes can be achieved effectively, efficiently, equitably, and in a sustained way
Planning –
1.Young people views are integral to the needs analysis and planning young people’s services.
2.Young people are involved in procuring young people’s services
Planning – Commissioning plan states clearly how young people will be involved and what level of influence they will have.Co-designed events are held to explore what services young people want, where and when and how these services should be delivered. e.g. panels, visits to potential providers, look at designs of buildings, locations and opening hours.

Procuring – developing the specification, marking tenders, short-listing, interviewing and selection of tenders through presentations, young people’s panels and ranking/voting exercises. Young people may set specific young people’s assessment criteria within the tendering specification and assess this part of the application, or young people with high level support may be involved in the assessment of the full tender documentation. Young people have significant influence over awarding contracts and have the right to veto an organisation if they feel it isn’t going to meet their needs.

Doing – implementing the plan using the resource available Doing –
1.There is a contractual agreement with successful providers to ensure there is a central commitment to the active involvement of young people.
2.Providers ensure young people are involved in the recruitment, selection and induction of staff across the organisation.
Doing – Tenders ask for commitment to and information on how young people will be involved and young people assess these as part of involvement in procurement process. Young people monitor and evaluate performance as part of involvement in review processes
Reviewing – monitoring delivery and its impact against expected outcomes Reviewing –
1.Young people’s feedback is used to review the quality of the commissioning process and on-going assessment of providers.
2.Recording and evaluation systems are in place to identify the impact of involving young people in the commissioning process.
Monitoring – Young people are involved in service inspections and evaluating commissioned services mystery shopping, project advisory groups, surveys and blogs. Use of young inspectors, Standards frameworks (Sheffield Involvement Standards/You’re Welcome Standards)Evaluation and learning – using case studies, life stories, photos, and video.


Young Commissioners Training Programme

Session Outlines

Session Topic Content
1 Getting started -To understand more about the programme, meet the group and trainers, and get an insight into commissioning.
2 Stages of Commissioning
Involving children & young people in commissioning
-Group agreement.
-Processes of Commissioning.
-Why involve children & young people in commissioning?
3 Re-Cap: Stages of Commissioning
Policies & Procedures
Recorded outcomes
-Re-visit stages of commissioning
-Importance of policies & procedures and what these are.
-Understanding recorded outcomes
4 Communication & Listening Skills
Interview training & questioning techniques
Equality & diversity
-Active listening
-Listening skills
-Body language
-Positive Communication
-Interviews: focus groups/ interviews/ research ethics/ creative consultation
-Questioning techniques & forming questions
-Equal opportunities
-Diversity in practice
5 Monitoring & quality assurance
Prepare & design a presentation & questions
Course Evaluation
-Understanding and putting into practice monitoring & quality assurance
-Assessment planning
-Service specifications
-Course Evaluation
-Next steps
6 Group fun activity -To be agreed with young people!

Additional training that may be required:

Young people may require additional training ‘add-ons’ to help them to feel more confident at each stage of the commissioning process (Understanding/ Planning/ Doing/ Reviewing). For example these may include:


– Research – interviews/ focus groups/ creative consultation/ needs assessments
– Analysing the needs of young people in specific services


– Designing service specifications (specific to certain services)
– Designing / creating the perfect service/ worker


– Interviewing and recruiting staff

Reviewing the service

– Understanding standards
– Service evaluations (tools and techniques)
– Designing assessments for services
– Coming up with recommendations & presenting these back
– How to influence change – service level and wider

If you would like to discuss how we can help you involve young people in the commissioning of services please contact