It’s time to take a step back and reflect on another year of collaboration with young people and our dedicated network of Foyers. 2023 brought collective challenges, but much innovation and growth too. In the face of the cost of living crisis, an increase in young people’s mental health concerns and a rise in the number of young people reporting as homeless to their local council, the Foyer community came together and focused its energy on finding solutions alongside young people.
Here are our ten highlights from a busy year!
1. Growing the team
This year, the Foyer Federation team grew with the addition of Phoebe Kent as Marketing Project Manager and Lynette Barlow as Strategic Financial Consultant. We also welcomed three new Trustees: Leona McDermidd (Aberdeen Foyer) and Louise Joseph (Swan Foyer) who joined as Network Trustees, and Alieu Fofanah (PWC) as Commercial and Enterprise Trustee, each bringing their unique skills and experience to the Board.
2. Growing the network
In 2023, four new services joined the Foyer Federation community, bringing the total number of Foyers to 66. YMCA Leicestershire became the newest member and Cork Foyer, Springboard Foyer, and Endeavour Foyer (MHS Homes) rejoined the network, strengthening the federation’s collective impact and reach.
3. Innovative programmes
This year we partnered with Foyers and young people to launch three new programmes. ReRooted, a mental health-focused initiative, now has 20 Foyers actively participating in the learning cycle. The Youth Power Fund awarded £75k to six Foyers for projects focused on sharing more power with young people in their services. The Advantaged Thinking Learning Community, a space for shared learning and innovation, engaged 45 young people and staff members from around the network, working collaboratively on a learning system and content tailored to their specific needs.
4. Investing in young people
This year 47 young people living in Foyers received awards of up to £300 each through the Talent Bonds programme for them to pursue a skill, dream or interest. 83 young people were awarded Moving On Up grants of up to £1000 each. The programme, in partnership with LandAid, offers financial support with the cost of moving out of their Foyer and into independent accommodation.
5. Strengthening the community
This year, over 70 staff from Foyers all around the country came together to share best practice and delve deeply into the subjects highest on their agendas. At the Great Gatherings, we explored ways to embed listening and leadership with young people. Foyer Connect brought staff in direct delivery roles together to reflect and learn from each other’s practice, and the ReRooted residential provided a space to grow staff capacity for working with young people experiencing challenges with mental health and wellbeing.
6. Amplifying young voices
More young people than ever before have taken leading roles in the Foyer Federation’s work this year, from co-creating residentials to sharing their stories, and from participation in grant panel meetings to consultation on our new strategic plan. 15 young people took part in the Power Pioneers programme, exploring ways to amplify their voices to advocate for change. 175 young people took part in the Big Questions survey in spring, sharing their views on the most important issues facing young people today: the cost of living and mental health.
7. Advocating beyond the network
Alongside the network, we responded to DfE consultation on the government’s new Ofsted regulations for supported housing for 16-17-year-olds leaving care and have an ongoing working group focused on these new standards. The Foyer Federation also added its voice ot the #planfor136k campaign along with more than 110 co-signatories, working together to urge the government to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the growing number of young people experiencing homelessness each year.
8. Supporting service development
24 Foyers were accredited by our panel this year, and six more Foyers started their quality development journey with us, highlighting the commitment and dedication to delivering quality accommodation for young people. The 2022-23 Foyer Federation annual report speaks to the positive impact Foyers are making in the lives of young people and the distance travelled on key strategic areas.
9. Developing new training
Two new training workshops launched at the end of 2023, both designed to support services to reflect on and grow their offer for young people. Restorative Practice training works with staff and young people to build stronger relationships, resolve conflict constructively and cultivate a culture of mutual respect. Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) training is aimed at effectively recognising and responding to the behaviours of trauma-experienced by young people.
10. Building for the future
Following an inspiring strategy consultation day with nearly 50 stakeholders, the launch of our new strategic plan will come in April 2024. Finally, the new Advantaged Thinking brand and website will fully launch in spring – watch this space for updates!
Let’s raise our glasses in a collective CHEERS to young people and the staff who work with them in Foyers all around the country. What a year it’s been. We wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy new year! We’re looking forward to seeing what 2024 will bring.