“Advantaged Thinking is pure sunshine.”

That was just one of the positive messages we took to heart at our celebration of a decade of Advantaged Thinking on 14 May. More than 100 people from all over the world came together to share how Advantaged Thinking has shaped their mindsets, their work and their aspirations for young people. From the UK and Ireland to France, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia and Greece, the global power and passion for Advantaged Thinking and young people was deeply felt.

David Gold, the Patron of Advantaged Thinking, opened the day with a reflection on the history and origins of Advantaged Thinking, which broke into the world with Colin’s T-shirt-ripping talk on the TEDx stage in Thessaloniki.

Throughout the afternoon, we heard inspirational ideas and practices from our collaborators in hosting the event – InspireChilli’s Colin Falconer, who created the concept of Advantaged Thinking during his time as the Foyer Federation’s Director of Innovation, and Your Housing Group, an Investor member of the Foyer Federation which has four Foyers in the north west, all four of which are consistently rated as operationally and strategically strong in their FOR Youth reviews. 

Colin shared key memories from his Advantaged Thinking journey, from the conversations that sparked the idea with the inspirational Jane Slowey to a hair-raising moment in Nepal with a man on a motorbike that challenged his Advantaged Thinking! He reminded us of the importance of love, and how this drives quality work with young people.

Andy Ward, Young People Services Operations Manager from Your Housing Group, shared how his Foyer teams show their Advantaged Thinking DNA every day by helping young people to thrive. He played a video of Lisa McWalters, Deputy Manager at Verve Place, telling her story of 16 years in the service and how Advantaged Thinking has influenced her career. 

We heard stories from across the globe, including from Mark Cox who described how Advantaged Thinking works for Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne and talked about his passion for the continuing challenges that his service embraces. Niamh McTiernan and Niamh Byrne from Northside Partnership in Dublin inspired us with their progress on building the principles into their HR practices and culture, and gave a fantastic example of the first test – talk – with their STAR stories, not case studies as “young people are not cases to be studied.” We then heard from Danny Sutton at Colony 47, who stayed up late to join us live from Hobart in Australia. He reminded us that culture beats strategy every day of the week, and described how Advantaged Thinking can create an ecosystem that solves complex human problems.

Our funder panel was an inspiring look into how organisations can invest in Advantaged Thinking practices for young people. We heard from Joe Rich, a Trustee of the Foyer Federation and Head of Youth Voice at the National Lottery Community Fund; Kate Hitchcock, Grant Manager at Paul Hamlyn Foundation; Sufina Ahmad, Director of John Ellerman Foundation; and David Gray, Service Manager at Wigan Council.

Joel Lewis, Chief Executive of the Foyer Federation, then looked to the future with a discussion of our new strategy, the Home for Advantaged Thinking. He described the four key ‘rooms’ of the strategy – Youth Leadership, Quality and Impact, Influence, and Community – and invited like minded people and organisations to find out more and join the movement.

Having so many people together in one room – albeit on Zoom – with such a passion for Advantaged Thinking created a heightened energy and momentum for the movement that we can’t wait to see grow over the next 10 years and beyond.

The Foyer Federation is registered in England and Wales under company number 2699839 at Work.Life, Core Building, 30 Brown Street, Manchester, M2 1DH. The charity is registered under charity number 1040482.
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