As we come to the end of a fantastic year I’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate the highlights from these past 12 months. Looking back, I’m proud of the progress the team has made, of the excellent impact our members are having with young people, and of the fabulous support our funders have given us during these challenging times.
We’re ending the year on a high, fully charged and ready to make progress on all our goals and ambitions for 2023. Our Chair, Alastair Wilson, described the Foyer Federation’s year as 'healthy, vibrant and glowing.' He said:
"Our shiniest moments from the year include launching the ambitious Youth Power Fund programme to give Foyers the capacity needed to meaningfully share power with young people, engaging a massive 80% of members in our accreditation, and celebrating two big birthdays – 10 years of Advantaged Thinking and 30 years of the Foyer Federation – with our new Adventures in Advantaged Thinking publication."
Ten reasons to be jolly…
1. The first year of the Youth Power Fund
We were privileged to receive funding from the Blagrave Trust to set up our Youth Power Fund, designed to support Foyers with innovation and creativity proposals around youth leadership and empowerment. Services within our network applied for up to £15,000 of funding per year to invest, explore and deliver youth leadership and power-sharing initiatives. We were able to co-create the funding criteria and decisions with a group of young people and so far have been able to award funding to seven Foyers, finding out about their highs and challenges throughout the process. Find out more about the Youth Power Fund here.
2. Adventures in Advantaged Thinking
We began the year with our Adventures in Advantaged Thinking 30th birthday celebration publication. A beautiful document (thanks to Foyer Graphics) that explores over 10 chapters the history, practical application and impact of Advantaged Thinking as an approach. In July we gathered around 100 people from around the global Advantaged Thinking community to celebrate and share inspirational stories of their work. Download and read the publication here.
3. We reached more staff than ever with our training
Our training looks at how to work effectively with young people, using our Advantaged Thinking approach. This year we more than doubled the number of staff we trained – 170 in the last 12 months, and 76 the year before. We were thrilled to see an increase in the number of requests for our new Powering Up Youth training that builds staff skills in the areas of youth leadership and involvement – visit our training page to find out more about training opportunities, workshops and resources available for you and your service.
4. Growing a quality assured and reflective network
We're so proud of the achievements of our members in 2022. Our community demonstrated a real commitment to Advantaged Thinking and the Foyer model, in the midst of great economic uncertainty and change. Through our FOR Youth quality assurance programme we’ve worked with over 30 local Foyers reflecting on their progress and challenges exploring ways to grow their impact. Find out more about services achieving great success on their accreditation journey here.
5. Network gatherings
In 2022 over 200 members of our network attended our peer learning and innovation events. Our Great Gatherings, Ideas Lab and Foyer Connect events brought people together to connect with colleagues from around the country, share positives and best practice, and offer ideas and support. Don’t miss our Digital Gathering in January! Sign up to register your place here.
6. Growing our team
Between April and December, the Foyer Federation team more than doubled in size, adding skills and experience in development and partnerships, impact and learning, programme and project management, engagement and supported housing, and systems and operations. Take a look at their smiling faces here.
7. Shifting the balance of power even further in favour of young people
This year we’ve made great strides toward amplifying the voice of youth in both our work and across the network, to level up the balance of power. Much of our work is directly informed by the experiences and voices of young people who have experienced homelessness or other challenging circumstances. For example we work alongside Young Consultants, co-create our services and co-deliver training with young people, we collaborate with young people on decision-making panels and they help us co-design our programmes. In July, 124 young people living in Foyers responded to our Big Questions survey providing us with invaluable feedback on their wants and needs. Lastly, we’ve also looked at how the voice of young people is represented in our own organisation and are delighted to have appointed three new trustees all aged under 30, with two having lived experience of issues facing young people in Foyers.
8. Receiving funding to run three exciting new programmes in 2023
The Advantaged Thinking Learning Community (National Lottery Community Fund) is aimed at connecting the national community of Foyers to support, inspire, learn and share with each other, and will be developed with Foyer staff and young people over a three-year period.
The ReRooted Programme (CHK Foundation and UK Youth) is a new initiative that will support staff working with young people who've faced significant challenges in their lives. Launching in the new year, ReRooted has a focus on mental health and aims to build the knowledge, confidence and skills to better support young people who arrive in the Foyer, making their time positive and inspiring, and enabling them to feel safe to put down new roots.
Lastly, The Moving On Up Fund (LandAid) will support young people who face financial barriers to moving on. The project will offer grants of up to £1000 to young people to spend on things like paying off debt, white goods, gas and electricity, and putting down a deposit.
9. Talent Bonds
This year David Gold (our Advantaged Thinking Patron) set us the challenge of raising enough funds to give out at least 30 Talent Bonds in our 30th year. Thanks to generous donations and small grants our panel of young people awarded 35 young people in Foyers up to £300 each to pursue their dreams and ambitions. Find out more about the grantees and the panel here.
10. Creating a new brand and identity for Advantaged Thinking
We’ve made great strides this year in creating a brand for Advantaged Thinking that our members, youth sector peers, friends and young people can engage with. With the help of Venn Creative and a working group of Foyer staff and young people, we’ve developed something we’re really happy with – and we hope you’ll love it too. We’re not quite ready to unveil it just yet, but keep your eyes open mid-2023 for more exciting announcements!
Finally, I would like to wish you all a wonderful festive season, and hopefully, some well earned rest too. The road ahead isn’t always going to be easy, but it’s certainly going to be an exciting one and together we can tackle all the challenges, celebrate the wins and support each other as the incredible community that we are. Looking forward to seeing you all in 2023 – Happy Christmas and an amazing New Year!