Lundy model of participation blog


The idea of involving service users in the decision-making process of designing services that are set up to benefit them is often a common goal. However, the detail of what needs to take place to make this idea a reality can often be seen as complex, time consuming and costly. But does it really have to be? Are there models that currently exist that can help guide managers through this process and if so, what are they. At Anna Freud, we’ve recently adopted the Lundy model of participation as our preferred framework for participation. This model is comprised of the following four domains: space, voice, influence and audience.  

In this article, we hear from Nasreen Siddique, Youth Participation Advisor and Dina Koschorreck, Parent/Carer Participation Advisor at Anna Freud. Dina and Nasreen unpick the importance of these four domains from a parent, carer and young person perspective on this. 

  • Nasreen Siddique, Youth Participation Advisor

    As a young person, it’s important for me to feel respected and treated like an equal when I’m involved in participation work. I want to feel listened to and as if my input is meaningful and will help bring about change for the better. I feel the Lundy Model helps achieve this by focusing on the human rights of a child, in particular article 12 which states that it is a child’s right to have their view heard and given due weight. I don’t think participation is about making unrealistic promises about what changes can be made or how much control a young person can have, but it instead remaining transparent with the young person and keeping them informed at every stage of the participation project. 

    When creating opportunities for young people, it’s important to be accessible and not gatekeep opportunities. When considering space, keep young people informed of what opportunities are out there for them. I first started participation work through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and after leaving CAMHS, I was still able to continue with participation work through the connections I made. It’s important to help young people find these connections and letting them know that just because one project ends, it doesn’t mean their participation journey has to end.  A helpful way I’ve been able to find different participation opportunities is through signing up to mailing lists and newsletters. 

    Professor Lundy explains that when supporting a young person to share their voice, they should have access to as much information as possible beforehand- this can be done by creating child-friendly versions of information. When considering voice, I think it’s vital to also facilitate other forms of communication and helping young people to express themselves if they are unable to speak up. What has worked for me is being able to draw or write how I feel and being asked questions and being able to draw my responses. 

    For me, the most important part of audience and influence is transparency. You must be open and honest about young people and the scope of the participation work. It’s important for young people to feel listened to and have for others to act considered their input and ideas. It’s important that where young people cannot reach an audience directly, a trusted adult can advocate on their behalf and share their ideas for them. Another important factor of influence is to ensure feedback is given and the young person is clear on the outcomes on the project, even if it’s not what they expected. It’s far worse to leave a young person in the dark and for them to not know what changes are starting to take place and how they influenced it. Keeping young people in the loop and informing them of what they’ve achieved with participation work can help build their confidence and make them realise their opinions do matter. 

    Nasreen Siddique, Youth Participation Advisor 

  • Dina Koschorreck, Parent/Carer Participation Advisor 

    In the recent National Centre for Family Hubs webinar on the Lundy Model of Participation, Professor Lundy emphasised that enabling participation of children is not a gift practitioners and parents generously bestow on children, but it is every child’s right to be heard and involved in decisions affecting them. She spoke about how children’s voices must be taken seriously, and practitioners need to not just listen but ensure that children’s views are reaching the relevant audience (i.e., decision makers) and secure influence (i.e., there needs to be a measurable impact). However, often this is still far from reality.  


    To illustrate this point, I can share an example from my children’s school. Recently, my children were taught about their rights in politics lessons. At the same time, they were told by administrative staff that “no one was interested in their views” regarding a proposed change. The children had written a factual and polite letter outlining their arguments against this change. Even when made aware of the irony in this situation, no one took action. Unfortunately, the children’s access to audience and influence were limited, and their voice was not taken seriously. The situation could have been remedied by an open conversation with the children in which the school could have listened to the children, openly discussed the change and explained their reasoning. 


    The lack of a safe space where we feel free to express our voice is a challenge faced not only by children but also by parents. Families with children who have additional needs, who often rely on a range of services, both universal and specialised, need to keep practitioners on their side. This often leads families like mine to choose our battles when advocating for our children. Some issues remain unaddressed and therefore unrecognised. However, it is important to note that “fringe” issues or issues I choose not to address are not necessarily unimportant.  


    Due to the power imbalance, I often find myself behaving more like a supplicant rather than like a rights holder when interacting with practitioners. This is why I consider the fact that the Lundy model is rights based to be such a crucial aspect. The Lundy model has the potential to fundamentally shift our understanding of power dynamics between service providers and service users. Participation offers a means for my voice to be heard, empowers me and allows me to raise issues I might have avoided with professionals directly involved in my family’s care.  


    Professor Lundy says, “voice is not enough.” It is important to acknowledge that many families do not even have a voice. They might lack the time or energy to engage in participation or avoid contact with practitioners due to previous negative experiences. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can participate. However, when engaging on low-level participation, such as responding to questionnaires, I often question the impact of my input. Who will review the results? What analysis will be conducted, which conclusions drawn and what actions will be proposed, if any? At times, feedback forms can feel more like an exercise in securing future funding than a way of improving services.  


    The Lundy model, on the other hand, provides a structured, practice- and results-oriented framework for participation. When correctly applied, this approach ensures that the views of children and parent are not merely heard but acted upon, thereby facilitating meaningful improvements in services. 


    Dina Koschorreck, Parent/Carer Participation Advisor 

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