This chapter, written with Louise Roberts, Jennifer Lyttleton-Smith, Sophie Hallett and CASCADE Voices, explores the work of a research advisory group for care experienced young people in Wales (CASCADE Voices).
In this chapter, we locate the group within the increased focus on ‘participation’ and service user voice in research. We provide an account of how the group operates, with case study examples of the ways in which its members (all care experienced young people trained in research methods) have provided expertise in various stages of the research process. This ranges from inspiring research projects and contributing to bids for grant funding, undertaking collection and analysis of data, to working on the dissemination of research findings.
CASCADE Voices is an integral part of the CASCADE research centre (link) which has valued young people as ‘experts by experience’ (Preston-Shoot, 2007) since it was established in 2014 by Professor Sally Holland. The chapter charts the many strengths of the group, such as its long-term, open-ended nature and its close collaboration with the service user organisation, Voices from Care Cymru. Many of the case study examples provide evidence of the way that young people’s lived experience of social care intervention enhances research on social care topics.
However, we have also been clear about some of the group’s challenges such as geographical limitations to young people’s participation, how to recognise members’ contributions and how a group like CASCADE Voices is, and should be funded and valued by institutions such as Universities.
We hope that this chapter, with its concrete examples, and discussion of the strengths and challenges we have encountered is helpful to anyone thinking about young people.