This month we are thinking about the CYP IAPT principle of participation, and how important it is to get young people and families involved in local mental health services. Krissie Ivanova is a Children’s Wellbeing Practitioner (CWP) who works for our partner Wellspring Counselling, one of the newest members of the collaborative.

Krissie has recently taken on the role of Participation Officer so we caught up with her to chat about her experience so far…


First of all, congratulations on your new role! What has been your experience of participation in your service so far?

Thank you! Wellspring is one of the most recent services to join the Community of Practice. As such, we have a long way to go before we fully adhere to the IAPT principles. My experience with participation within Wellspring has been limited. So far, we have been able to seek feedback from all our clients (both young people using the WP service, as well as young people and adults receiving counselling support). We have also successfully run a series of wellbeing workshops in primary schools and in the community and we have asked young people about their feedback. We have used this feedback to improve our service where possible.

How will you juggle your work as a CWP with this new role?

The exciting part about my new role as as qualified CWP and a Participation officer for Wellspring is that I have the opportunity to work flexibly. Currently, I have one day a week allocated to doing participation work alongside my clinical days and other responsibilities. Having set days for the different areas of my role would allow me to focus on the different elements of my role on a regular basis.

What ideas have you had so far for embedding participation at Wellspring?

As Participation work is something very new to our service, I am in a position where I could develop our participation work from scratch. What this means is that once I have recruited a group of young people to join our participation group, it would be entirely up to them what they would like to focus on. Our goal is to start by recruiting 6-8 people aged 14-18 to meet fortnightly for 90 minutes starting in January. We would advertise the opportunity to current clients, schools, GP surgeries, and local youth groups. We would like to offer the opportunity to every young person in the area because this would bring variety to our participation group. Once we establish our participation group, we would introduce different ‘sub-projects’ – e.g. a social media and advertisement focus group and an interview panel for new staff members. Later on, we would also like to offer this opportunity for young people aged 18-25 and also adults. 

What do you think the challenges might be?

One of the biggest challenges would potentially be the recruitment itself. As this is something very new not only to our organisation, but also to North Somerset in general, we would need to advertise widely. What we are also aware of, is that young people might not necessarily know what would be expected of them. This is why we have decided to have a ‘meet and greet’ social before Christmas for all the young people who have expressed their interest to join the Participation group in January. This would be an opportunity for them to meet myself and the other young people who have expressed interest in joining the group and ask any questions they might have.


Good luck to Krissie and the rest of the Wellspring team as they start on this exciting project! We now have a dedicated team within the collaborative to help you plan how to incorporate participation into your service – contact them at this link.