This April, we will begin working under our new Home for Advantaged Thinking strategy – creating a space for young people to innovate, collaborate and take action; for organisations who believe in young people and want to turn the tide of disadvantage; a doorway for young people to realise their power and purpose.
As part of this, we have this week launched our youth influence and involvement strategy – Power Up Youth. This strategy underlines our commitment to enabling young people to take up leadership roles in their own lives, in their local community and on a national scale, both within and through the Foyer Federation. It is our roadmap for meaningfully embedding youth influence throughout our organisation and working in close collaboration with our members, young people and other organisations in the sector to shift power in favour of young people.
When creating this strategy, we took inspiration from our work with The Listening Fund, and in particular Colin Falconer’s 2020 report Strength in Solidarity. This report highlights the need for empathy to result in action, for power to be shared, and the need to always be listening in order to offer a quality service.
HOLDING OURSELVES TO ACCOUNT
To ensure that our strategy and the actions that grow from it are likely to affect real, tangible change, we have created a set of five touchstones to check ourselves against.
- INCLUSIVE: We want to hear from all young people with experience of homelessness. We will create opportunities for young people to engage with us that suit different levels of commitment and time, from twice-yearly surveys to six-month training programmes.
- GENUINE: We want to meaningfully shift power in favour of young people. We want to steer clear of tokenistic actions, which can undermine trust.
- FAR-REACHING: We want to embed young people’s influence in every level of the organisation. This includes everything from the decisions made at board level to how programmes are designed and run, and from assessing Foyers as part of our accreditation process to training Foyer staff.
- NURTURING: We want to create the right conditions for young people to flourish with the Foyer Federation. We are committed to putting the right support in place to make our approach sustainable, accessible and successful for the young people we work with.
- AMBITIOUS: We want to embrace discomfort and encourage radical thinking and approaches. As the Foyer Federation, we want to live up to our values of being brave and being maverick, knowing that championing our beliefs isn't always the easy route to take, and will lead by example.
THE POWER PYRAMID: THREE LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT
The Power Up Youth strategy describes three levels of engagement and youth power that will embed young people’s influence into every level of our organisation.
Each layer of the pyramid offers a different level and type of engagement, ensuring that there’s a route for every young person from our network to have an impact:
- Power Level 1 – quick, low-commitment opportunities available to a large number of young people. For example, participation in the local and national groups through Pass It On, and six-monthly surveys with the results presented to our board.
- Power Level 2 – local, medium-term opportunities available to a small group of young people per Foyer. For example, co-creating a local and national framework for youth leadership within Foyers, and appointing Youth Speakers to represent the views of others residents.
- Power Level 3 – long-term, high-profile commitment and opportunities to assume real power for a small number of young people on a national scale. For example, the Power Up Youth leadership group, and young people taking Trustee positions on our board.
FUTURE AIMS AND IMPACT
The work we do in the next year (2021-22) will create a formidable structure built to stand the test of time – much like the pyramids in Giza. In year one, we will directly reach 440 young people, and the work has the potential to positively impact the 2750 young people who live in Foyers every year. What happens next is intentionally flexible, as it will be decided and designed in collaboration with young people who have ideas and insights that might never occur to our current team of over 30s.
We want to hear from potential partners and allies – those who stand in solidarity with young people. Contact us for a conversation.