Co-designing Reimbursement

by Nathan Williams | 11th Jan 2022

As a Social Enterprise, ProMo believes in the social value which comes from co-designing services with people. We believe that peoples’ lived experiences should be recognised and valued when co-designing better services. Recently we carried out a workshop with young people to discuss reimbursement for taking part in our Service Design and Co-Designed Digital Media work.

ProMo works with public and third sector organisations to help them reach more people and deliver better digital services. To do this, we carry out what is often called ‘user research’ in digital design circles.  This means we speak with people to learn more about them and their needs. Sometimes we also show them a prototype of something we have made and see how they actually use it.

When a project allows it, we often pay young people as freelance staff members to help with this process. This helps them gain work experience and be an active part of a project from beginning to end. We did this while supporting The Young People in the Lead Team, who researched the needs of young people for The National Lottery Community Fund. While for other projects, the young people prioritised the opportunity to get their voice heard, such as the ThinkAgain! video we co-designed with young people at YMCA Cardiff.

Whilst conversations about what constitutes volunteering or paid work can often get confusing in charity governance, we were keen to hear what young people had to say.

What Young People told us they value

· Acknowledgement

· Food

· Opportunities to get involved in other things

· Summaries of outcomes to show the value of participation

· Free training

· Free events

· Training

· Work experience

· Certificates

· Mental health and well-being support

· Meaningful experiences

· Visiting workplaces

· Vouchers

· Paid opportunities

· CV help sessions

Goolge Jamboard of 'What Young People told us they value'.
Workshop Jamboard

What we found out

Workshop participants
Youth workshop

During our workshop, the young people identified that different levels of participation and commitment might mean different reimbursement levels. The young people understood that sometimes there would be budget constraints. They also understood that some projects might benefit more from volunteers or only take a few minutes, while others were better suited or needed to employ staff. We agreed on the importance of involving young people in the conversation about reimbursement when participating in activities with an intended social benefit. The young people were conscious that financial barriers can stop equitable access and that paying someone can give them the opportunity to participate. 

Remember to ask

We came up with a simple framework for organisations involving people when discussing reimbursement:

If you have the budget = ask.

If you don’t have the budget = ask.

What are we going to do differently?

We’re going to keep on involving young people and, where possible, employ them. This way, we can ensure genuine youth voice in our projects and allow many young people to gain their first chance at employment.

One of the things that young people valued was seeing the outcome of their involvement. Some young people told us they had participated in various consultations or co-production activities, but almost none had heard about the difference their contribution made. We’ll now be ensuring that we inform all people who take part in our projects about the outcomes. This is a simple change that we hope will positively affect participation and empower more people to change things for the better.

Work with ProMo

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