Raising the volume on Nottingham’s youth voices

How our Public Engagement team brings specialists in different sectors together to contribute to the UNICEF Child Friendly Nottingham programme.

On Wednesday 22nd May, we hosted a Youth Voice workshop with City as Lab in partnership with Nottingham City Council and Nonsuch Studios.

This workshop provided an opportunity for experienced youth survey creators to collaborate on producing ideas for UNICEF's child-friendly Nottingham programme survey, set to go live later this year. The attendees, a mixture of researchers and practitioners, heard from external speakers and participated in group work, helping to develop the survey and the process for engagement.

Surveys can help track the progress of a project and highlight key issues for prioritisation from particular demographics, in this case, children and young adults.

The morning started with an introduction from our very own Maria Richards, Head of Public Engagement and a welcome from Professor Paul Grainge, director of City as Lab at Castle Meadow Campus. We then heard from Nonsuch Studios, Nottinghamshire YMCA and Nottingham City Council, all giving different perspectives of how to conduct youth surveys, the challenges faced, and valuable information gained from conducting surveys.

Two speakers talking in front of a room of acedemics Paul Grainge and Maria Richards welcome talk

Nonsuch Studios

Nonsuch Studios is an independent theatre company, creative producer and arts charity based in Nottingham city centre. Nonsuch Studios is responsible for Notts Youth Trends, the city’s biggest youth voice survey, currently funded by the Institute of Policy and Engagement and City as Lab.

The talk and activity were presented by Ed Boott and Caroline Rowland from Nonsuch Studios. The presentation began with thinking of ways to think outside the box on how to communicate with young audiences moving to the history of Nonsuch Studios and past and present surveys. Their main take home point was how much harder it has become to host sessions in schools post-covid. Another useful pointer was allowing yourself to adapt questions once the survey is live and respond to feedback in real time.

Two speakers talking in front of a screen to a group of people Ed Boott and Caroline Rowland - Nonsuch Studios


The attendees then heard from Nottinghamshire YMCA who detailed their survey work with local schools they completed in February 2024. YMCA is an organisation with a focus on family and youth work, creating positive outcomes for children and young adults in their communities.

This talk was presented by Rachel Quinn, Head of Development Assets at Nottinghamshire YMCA and Dr Tara Webster-Deakin, University of Nottingham. The survey they conducted in February 2024, focused on individual key stage levels within schools providing highlights in the difference of priorities and perspectives of year 8 and year 10.

After detailing the process of the survey, the challenges they faced and what they learnt from the experience, they concluded the presentation describing how the data acquired can be used. Their approach contrasted with that of Nonsuch, in that they bought in an existing survey which they edited to remove Americanisms. Ultimately though the challenges were very similar - gaining access to classes to talk through the survey with pupils and processing how to use the collected data responsibly and effectively.

Two speakers talking in front of a screen to a group of people Rachel Quinn and Tara Webster-Deakin - YMCA

Nottingham City Council and Child Friendly City

After refreshments, we heard from Nottingham City Council who detailed the ongoing UNICEF Child Friendly Nottingham programme, how it’s developed, the current survey stage and their mission to create an environment to help the younger generations turn into thriving adults.

Ekua Ghansah, Child Friendly City Programme Lead and Jon Rea, Research, Engagement and Consultation Manager at Nottingham City Council, presented the information which was followed with an activity to engage with the attendees and share knowledge and ideas.

The activity consisted of splitting the attendees into three groups. The first discussing the brand for the CFN surveys. The second discussing how to manage the data for analysis and impact reporting and the final group discussing the logistics of the survey, how the design looks, the distribution and collation of the feedback.

Networking, City as Lab talk and summary of the workshop

The workshop concluded with some light refreshments, a tour of some of the facilities at City as Lab from Paul Grainge and Jasper Donelan and a chance for the attendees to network and ask any follow up questions to the speakers and colleagues.

University of Nottingham has been a partner in the city’s UNICEF Child Friendly bid from an early stage. A key function of the Institute is supporting ambitious local programmes by using our convening power to bring together those who can provide insight and help make things happen.
Maria Richards, Head of Public Engagement at the Institute of Policy and Engagement

Attendees from University of Nottingham included representatives from humanities, architecture, medicine and widening participation. We are delighted with the conversations sparked from this workshop, the knowledge exchanged between colleagues and ideas for the UNICEF Child Friendly City programme survey. We’re looking forward to organising other opportunities for collaboration in the future.

If you would like more information on UNICEF Child Friendly Nottingham programme visit Child Friendly Nottingham website or email us on theinstitute@nottingham.ac.uk to register your interest.