Accessibility statement

The Co-Production of Young People's Health and Social Services (CYPHER)

Cypher is a participatory research project designed to enable children and young people to have an impact upon their local health and social care policy formulation and service provision. Adopting an innovatory approach to data collection and dissemination through the use of digital communications technologies, children and young people will act as co-researchers to work collaboratively with artists, practitioner stakeholders and university academics. The co-production of the research findings will enable the young people involved to develop skills and understanding important for raising their aspirations and sense of efficacy. Moreover, the results will immediately inform local policy deliberations offering the prospect of more responsive and tailored local health and social care services arising from the personal experiences and expectations of young people themselves. The flexibility of Cypher’s participatory research tool will form the basis of a sustainable partnership for future collaboration and its wider application elsewhere.

The long-term outcome of the Cypher project is the co-construction of a sustainable evidence-based voice for young people into local deliberations about policy and provision of health and social care services for young people in Hartlepool. Engaging with children and young people around their experiences of health and social care is a significant challenge for Local Authorities and Healthwatch organisations. Healthwatch have a responsibility to promote the voice of children and young people in addition to providing information, advice and support to them. Despite the barriers, a direct understanding of children and young people’s experiences, perceptions and expectations is increasingly important for the on-going development of health and social care services. This is especially the case in areas such as Hartlepool, which continue to experience both high levels of social deprivation and service funding cuts. Two primary assumptions inform our understanding of both the difficulty of meeting the long-term goal of engaging children and young people in the formulation of health and social care policy and practices and the beneficial impacts afforded by successfully addressing these challenges:

  • Many children and young people can lack the confidence, sense of efficacy and communication skills for their voice to be heard in deliberations over health and social service policy-making and delivery because of power differentials between ‘experts’ and young people.
  • Social and health services are more cost-effective and responsive to the needs of socially deprived young people where they are co-produced through direct engagement with young people themselves.

By collaboratively engaging with young people as co-researchers Cypher will facilitate the co-production and exchange of knowledge intended to directly inform and change local policy-making on health and social care in Hartlepool for the greater benefit of young citizens and the wider community. It is based upon an intended partnership between the Centre for Political Youth Culture and Communication (Department of Sociology) and the Department of Health Sciences based at the University of York, Hartlepool Borough Council, Hartlepool Healthwatch, and a number of participating digital artists. It will further enable the creation of a strategic research and knowledge exchange partnership for future collaborative projects.

More specifically the objectives of Cypher are to:

  • establish ‘ proof of concept’ for an innovatory participatory research tool and activities to enable young people to have an impact upon local health and social care policy formulation and implementation
  • establish a two-way process of engagement with young people to co-research health and social care provision in Hartlepool
  • raise the educational aspirations and sense of efficacy of young people in socially deprived areas
  • enable the exchange of knowledge between young people, practitioner stakeholders, political representatives and academics for a range of benefits (see below)
  • identify and communicate through a range of media the health and social care policy priorities of young people as they are experienced through their everyday lives.


Funder(s): York ESRC IAA 
Start Date: March 2017
Expiry Date: October 2017


Internal Staff

  • Amanda Mason-Jones (Department of Health Sciences)
  • Nathan Manning (Department of Sociology)


External Collaborators

Public Health and Society Research in the Department of Health Sciences