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Case study

West Sussex  – Voice and Participation

Rebranded and relaunched participation service for West Sussex County Council.


In 2022 The Care Leaders worked with West Sussex to rebrand and relaunch their youth participation service.

Over 12-months we worked with the senior leadership team, youth participation service and young people to co-design a service that young people would engage with.

We supported by developing:

  • Participation Service Restructure – Our role was to support the restructuring of the participation service. By coaching the participation manager we were able to develop a new service specification to ensure youth engagement was structured and effective.
  • Youth Participation Strategy – co-designed with young people, staff and leaders we identified gaps, opportunities and a new vision for youth participation across the council.
  • Voice and Participation Brand – using talented graphic designers and illustrates we developed a brand that represented young people whilst keeping the council’s brand central.

The Care Leaders worked alongside a project manager, project sponsor, operational lead, design experts and young people to develop the new participation service and ensure young people accessed participation opportunities in West Sussex.

Using our experience in service design, youth participation and graphic design we:

Developed a Plan

We produced a 5-phase plan to lead the service through the rebrand and restructure.

Provided Coaching

Through weekly coaching with the Voice and Participation Manager we worked together to co-design, restructure and implement their new participation service.

Produced a Participation Strategy

We developed a youth participation strategy to ensure participation was meaningful and measurable.

Rebranded the Participation Service

Working closely with the participation team, we rebranded the service to appeal to young people.

Facilitated Training

To ensure the participation service was understood by everybody, we facilitated training that developed people’s skills to engage with young people.

Youth Voice Network

We supported the development of a network to connect all participation forums together to ensure young people are connected and engaged with each other.

We had a strategic approach to show develop Voice and Participation in West Sussex

We developed 5 phases to ensure everyone knew how to improve participation. It was important to have a strategic approach to develop the new participation service, this project engaged children’s services, their partners and the wider council. This required a clear phased approach that enabled us to provide the leadership that was needed to make this a success.


Phase 1: Research

We took a deep dive and researched demographics of young people, learnt what they needed and how to measure impact.

Phase 2: Design

Co-designed an outline to the new participation strategy, service specification and brand.

Phase 3: Create

Created the brand and wrote the new strategy to engage with young people.

Phase 4: Launch

We launched the service internally, backed by seniors, with clear a clear direction to provide the best participation opportunities to young people.

Phase 5: Handover

We handed over the project and provided light touch support to ensure a smooth transition.

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Our Participation Strategy was developed with the whole service.

After setting up a project board, with a senior project sponsor, project lead and participation service we engaged with members from across the council. Exploring through a series of workshops and conversations we identified gaps in participation and co-created vision for its’s improvement. This included working with senior leadership, service leads from across children’s services and youth participation services.

Our strategy was underpinned by three main areas:


Organisational Challenges

We identified 6 challenges that the organisation had to overcome to ensure meaningful participation could happen


Rules of Engagement

These 5 rules were followed by staff to ensure that their participation with young people was ethical and meaningful.


Participation Pillars

The ‘Participation Pillars’ guided the participation service to have a simple framework to follow with all their engagement activities

Youth Voice Network: a vision to bring together all youth participation forums from across West Sussex.

To ensure the success of their strategy and the future of participation in West Sussex, we supported to development of an objective to develop active group of children and young people, who are trained and supported to engage in service design confidently.

The aim of the Youth Voice Network is to hear and amplify voices, so they lead to change, by bringing together the views, ideas and opinions of all young from across West Sussex.

Over the next 3 years the aims of Youth Voice Network are:


Establish the Youth Voice Network

Bring together all youth forums from across West Sussex and create a space for all children and young people’s voices to be heard and shared.

Engage Children and Young People in Service Delivery and Improvement

The purpose of the Youth Voice Network is to have a central space for all children and young people to connect, share and engage in participation activities to develop their services.

Provide Development Opportunities for Children and Young People

If we want children and young people to support us in developing our services, we need to make sure they have the appropriate skills to do so. Therefore, we will provide development opportunities to all children and young people.


We developed a brand that engaged young people.

The council wanted a vibrant brand that would be engaging to young people. We worked alongside their participation service, young people and ensured we engaged the councils design and communications team to develop a brand that was designed with a youthful look.

Voice and Participation Brand:

  • Logo
  • Colour Scheme
  • Icons
  • Imagery
  • Typography


  • Richard Nash
    Director of children’s services, Buckinghamshire

    I’ve seen the language change verbally and in recording, and I’ve only heard positive things from this training.

  • Victoria Banks
    Virtual school headteacher, Middlesbrough

    I highly recommend The Care Leaders to support key stakeholders in understanding the journey through care by those who know it best, care experienced young people. The training they provide is engaging, and thought-provoking and offers professionals a reliable and comprehensive tool kit to enhance their daily practice. Their online platform is easy to access and offers much more than a pre-recorded e-learning course.

  • Leslea Marwick
    Education advisor, East Sussex Virtual School

    Attendees reported that they really learnt a lot. It gave them a good understanding of the situation of children who come into the care system, and how best to support them. The key messages were clear with ‘calls to action which we have been able to take away and use to inform our practice. The lived experience informing this course and the storytelling skills of the presenter made the course particularly powerful.

  • Anonymous
    Fostering team manager

    Certain phraseology has stuck in my head – ‘being emotionally overwhelmed’, ‘Children come into care not because of what they’ve done but because of what’s been done to them’, The session regarding rethinking responses to what children say was also incredibly powerful and is something I will definitely be looking at with my team.

  • Anonymous
    School teacher

    This training has exceeded my expectations. It was the sensitivity of the delivery that made it special…truly making us see the experience through the eyes of the young people in care.
    I now have a better understanding of the care system, and how it affects students. This has led me to be able to better support ‘Looked After Children’.

  • Anonymous
    Social worker

    Brilliant. Really engaging. I felt that way in which you combined personal stories with the data / legal definition side of things was really well pitched. I felt so much more invested in this training than A LOT of other training I have attended.

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