Big changes start locally

Youth Advisory Panel Key Findings

#iwill Take Action Fund Hands

In my previous blog I shared the link to our new film, evaluating how we worked with the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Panel to deliver the #iwill Take Action Fund. Alongside the film, the evaluators provided some key findings and recommendations for future co-production or co-delivery. I want to share those with you today.

Firstly, the evaluation team found that on collaborating with Youth Focus North East we drew from their experience but something was lost in our and the young people’s development by handing over responsibility for the day-to-day management. Having a direct connection with the young people, running a panel ‘in-house’ is something we will think about doing in future. I’ll talk about this more in an upcoming blog.

Secondly, they found the Foundation was responsive to feedback, particularly the Panel’s request to view whole applications rather than sections and it was more “youth-led” than members initially expected it to be. Knowledge exchange was encouraged and both young people and the Foundation team were up-skilled in sharing different expertise. We will use our new skills and learning in future work around co-delivery and/or co-production.

Thirdly, whilst Panel members felt the group was diverse and representative, there was agreement that where young people had direct experience of some of the issues that the Foundation aims to tackle this often led to the most powerful and insightful contributions. The Foundation also acknowledged that the young people’s age and personal interests were often reflected in their choices.

The fourth key finding was focused on the young panel members. All agreed they have gained confidence, developed their team working, critical thinking and communication skills as a result of being involved in the panel. All of the panel could give an example of where they felt their ideas had made a direct difference to the work of the Foundation and the funding decisions made. In the next blog I will share the outcomes of the Panel’s own evaluation looking at the impact it has had on them individually.

Finally, as our Executive Director Nancy mentioned in the film, there has been a “culture shift” and the Foundation has identified areas where it needs to change to better reflect the views of those they hope to benefit from their grantmaking.

Going forward the team recommended we consider:

  • Being more active in recruitment to ensure young people have the right competencies and diversity.
  • Having regular, direct involvement to allow relationships to develop and further long-term, embedded collaboration with young people.
  • Engaging with young people right from the beginning so they have a say in the structure and format of their involvement.
  • Being self-reflective about the age range of the panel members and the impact of this and be prepared to make changes.
  • Recruiting and training more than enough young people to allow for drop out without it effecting the work.
  • Ensure flexibility in terms of timings of meetings and deadlines to account for young people’s availability and other commitments.
  • Consider paying young people for their time if greater commitment is required.
  • Ensure the Panel has a legacy by signposting its members to further opportunities and by continuing the relationship where possible.

We have found the learning invaluable and I hope you find it useful in shaping future programmes.

Watch the film evaluation here.


Rachel Kyle-Barclay

Programme Officer

Virgin Money Foundation

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