Boingboing’s youth participation involves 15 University of Brighton staff and student volunteers; four young people with complex needs, who are employed by Boingboing and two of whom have community fellow contracts with the university; and another ten young volunteers.
They take part in or lead on a raft of projects and initiatives including drafting bids and other applications, conducting research, running Boingboing, setting up the Resilience Forum, running training, attending conferences and giving keynote speeches both in the UK and internationally, literature scoping or consultative reviews for those with learning difficulties, writing blogs and other publications, and making films.
Boingboing Youth Participation started in 2014 and they hope to have funding to enable it to run forever. It is being funded by upwards of £500,000 from the university, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Big Lottery Fund, Economic and Social Research Council, European Framework 7, and local councils in the UK and overseas.
Anne said: “I feel privileged to work for Boingboing and to be doing my PhD with the University of Brighton, which is well known for its Community University Partnerships and public engagement. I have had the support and encouragement of two great PhD supervisors in Professor Angie Hart and Dr Carl Walker who are totally committed to focusing research on addressing disadvantage and discrimination. Working for Boingboing has also enabled Simon to overcome barriers to employment he faced as a disabled person and use his personal experience and skills to spread the word about resilience to academic audiences nationally and internationally.
“Being able to work from within the university offices really helps us all to get the best out of the combination of academic expertise and community based practice. Simon, like all the Boingboing team, is totally dedicated to making sure that the needs of the most vulnerable young people and adults are highlighted through our research and practice. He says his mum is proud and so she should be.”
Professor Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health, Director of Boingboing and the lead supervisor for Anne’s Phd, said Anne, Simon and the wider Boingboing team’s nomination was “thoroughly well deserved and one that reflects the hard work and dedication from everyone involved in Boingboing”.
Professor Hart said: “Simon works tirelessly for Boingboing and brings such enthusiasm to the team as well as his own personal experiences of adversity that he shares in engaging training and writing so that others can learn from them. Anne leads on the development of co-productive Phd research, developing practice-informed policies for universities and community organisations. Her own Phd is a fantastic example of innovative, co-productive research and she really has gone the extra mile to ensure that it is both intellectually up to scratch and as inclusive as possible.
“Boingboing puts a great deal of effort into producing outputs, both written, visual and in various social media formats. Anne has found innovative ways to support young people to produce their own outputs. She has assisted members of the group to give talks, including conference keynotes, and she has built strong relationships with community organisations, including Arts Connect, an organisation developing arts-based practice for people with complex needs.
“Anne has also led on the development of specific resilience-building tools, and on assisting young people with complex needs to realise their dream of developing a resilience game that other young people could play. Anne supported the young people to bring this idea to industry-standard fruition.
“Finally, Anne has fed the practical work she has been doing into theoretical debates in the resilience field and in participatory action research, leading to a sustained impact in both areas in the long term.”