The Big Questions is our bi-annual survey of young people living in supported accommodation, asking about their experiences of their Foyers, their visions of the future, and what’s important to them right now. It’s one of the ways we make sure we’re always listening and trying to hear from as many young people as possible, holding ourselves to account against our new youth influence and involvement strategy.

The first time we ran the survey was in spring 2020 when the pandemic was just beginning and the first lockdown was still underway. Since then, we’ve used the results to shape our programmes, write our youth involvement strategy, and write applications for funding. Every response we receive helps us to be truly youth-led in our work.

We received a massive 124 responses from 22 services, up from 86 from 18 services in spring 2020. Thank you to Aberdeen Foyer, Blackburn with Darwen, Bodmin, Braintree, Bridge, Carn Brea, Coops + Brecon, Crewe YMCA, ESYM, Heather Court, Ryde Foyer (Isle of Wight), Liskeard, Monarch Court, Newhaven, Plymouth, Ravenhead, Swan House, Torbay, Verve Place, Wiltshire, YMCA Derbyshire and YMCA Milton Keynes.


When asked what causes are important to them, young people in supported housing services overwhelmingly drew attention to mental health (66%). Animal rights (32%) and homelessness (31.5%) are also important to them, as well as causes that contribute to a happy family life, such as children and young people (30%) and domestic abuse (26.5%). This is consistent with the survey we conducted in summer 2020 in which the three most important causes were mental health (58%), domestic abuse (58%) and homelessness (53%). 

Mental health was also noted as the biggest challenge young people face today (80%), followed by employment (46%) and housing (44%). The increase in the number of young people naming mental health as most important highlights the impact of the pandemic on coping mechanisms like social connections, and the need for effective services.


We asked young people about the opportunities they have to lead and influence in their services at the moment, and the results were very positive overall. 89.5% of young people feel confident enough to share their thoughts within their Foyer and know how to make their voices heard, and about 85% see things change as a result of that feedback.

It is also encouraging to see that 81% of young people are interested in contributing to leadership in some way within their service, and especially that around 48% would be keen to be involved in decision making, take on a specific responsibility or work together with a leadership group of young people. 

As part of the Foyer Federation’s strategy for 2021-25, we plan to work together with staff and young people to help to further develop this area and build on this enthusiasm and drive. This will include avenues for all young people to be heard, and however they prefer to be involved, and will be steered by those young people who are motivated to take the lead.


We asked young people to tell us three words that describe their feelings about the future, and this was the result:

We also asked young people to tell us about their ambitions and hopes for what the future might hold. Overall, most young people have ambitions to build a thriving future by finding a job they like, making a home for themselves, pursuing education or completing a qualification, and building positive relationships with their children, friends, partners and families. Of course, these ambitions look and feel different for each young person, and you can find each individual response in the full report.

To have a conversation about our youth involvement strategy or practices, contact [email protected].

The Big Questions - winter 2021
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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