Top tips for developing young peer researchers

Wednesday 10th April 2024 by Caroline Masundire
Peer Research

Top tips for developing young peer researchers

In 2017, we trialled a new approach to understanding the needs and views of young people for the Young Westminster Foundation. Peer research at the time was a developing methodology and, although we were at the beginning of our journey, the whole process and eventual report represented a seismic shift for how young people could shape services. A further two reports and seven years later, the latest findings were published late last year.

We have found that peer research is a really effective way of reaching young people and importantly getting their views. In the process, peer research can also help young people build skills and confidence through this valuable work experience. We are currently exploring how this can become a pathway into work and build employability skills.

Here are five top tips if you are considering a peer research project.

1 Making the training accessible, fun, and engaging. We use both virtual and face to face methods to train young people over several sessions, but we ensure that this allows space for the researchers to make friends and practice the research methods on each other. They are supported throughout the session by members of our team and given lots of opportunities to ask questions and learn.

2 Using young people’s skills and experience to design the research. By co-designing interview and focus group questions we know all the materials are relatable to their peers and across ages.

3 Management and support. As well as having round the clock support from our team, we also use WhatsApp chat groups to share their experiences and learning and help to motivate them and keep them on track. 

4 Celebration and recognition. A celebratory event at the end of the process is always good fun as it is an opportunity for researchers to come back together, share their experiences with each other and see the results from their findings.  We also like to ensure that they can continue their journey by working with commissioners and funders to embed their voices and experiences into services as a youth voice or on a funding panel.

5 Last but not least, giving them incentives which recognise the value of their time. For the over 16s this includes paying the Real Living Wage equivalent for their training and research time.

We are continually learning about how to improve our peer research practices so if you are planning research with children and young people and want some pointers on how to incorporate peer research, we would be more than happy to share some learning and tools so do get in touch.