In March/April 2023, we asked young people from our network their views of their Foyers, communities and the world through our biannual Big Questions survey. A massive 175 young people completed the survey from 25 Foyers – the biggest response yet!

Our learnings from the survey will shape our strategy, inform our programme and event design, and help us to set a direction for the organisation in the coming months and years. You can read an overview of our learnings below, and download a copy of the full report and a 'you said, we did' response for young people at the bottom of this post.

What's worrying young people right now

Overwhelmingly, we heard that the cost of living crisis is having a big impact on people's lives, including making it harder to move on and negatively affecting mental health. 75% of people who responded said the cost of living is one of their biggest challenges today – up from 31% in the previous survey.

“I definitely think cost of living is causing a lot of young people a lot of worry and stress because it doesn’t just affect the money side of things, it can affect relationships of all kinds and add a lot more stress onto their life when the problem is all about money and how much everything has went up in price.”

Mental health also remains a significant concern, with 68% of young people sharing this as a challenge. 

"Mental health as in like feeling like you’re alone or not having anyone there. Scared to tell someone they’re struggling."

In the last year, the Foyer Federation has launched two programmes to address these areas, largely in response to previous Big Questions surveys. The Moving On Up fund offer grants of up to £1000 to help with the costs of moving on, and ReRooted aims to build staff capacity to work with young people who experience challenges with their mental health. 

Young people want to make change happen

A powerful 82% of young people told us they want to be involved in leading change within their Foyer. That's such a positive indicator of the massive drive and energy young people have for shaping the future. 

“I think a positive thing for young people is the small communities coming together against racism/homophobic behaviour.”

We also saw a trend towards leadership and decision-making opportunities that require a high level engagement, like being part of a small group of young leaders and being involved in staff meetings. 

“My generation are speaking out on topics that other people are too scared to speak about.”

The number of young people interested in responding to surveys or having one-off conversations has reduced, though it is overall still the most popular option. This highlights the value in having a range of ways for young people to get involved, ideally covering the spectrum of the ladder of participation and factoring in different levels of time available, areas of interest and level of confidence. 

Powering Up Youth training can help you to explore how your service involves young people and identify areas of potential and growth. 

Young people want to see quicker action when they speak up

92% of young people reported feeling confident to tell their Foyer what they think. That's a hugely positive sign that staff are successfully creating spaces that feel brave and safe for young people to express their views.

However, just 55% of young people said that when they speak up, change happens quickly. 24% said change is slow or they're not kept informed, and 13% said it's rare that anything changes at all. 

This suggests that Foyers have cultivated a strong foundation of listening in their staff teams, and that young people are ready for them to take the next step. This may include firming up feedback loop processes, involving young people in decision making and creating opportunities for young people to lead in the service. 

Read our learnings and tips from Foyers exploring youth leadership through the Youth Power Fund for inspiration!

Download the full reports

Want to find out more? Download the full report to read about what's positive for young people right now, where they find a sense of purpose, their views on Foyers, and lots more. 

If you're a young person or work with someone who responded to the survey, download our 'you said, we did' report to learn how we're responding to what we heard.

The Big Questions full report
The Big Questions – 'you said, we did' report for young people
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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