A visit to: The Mix

A visit to: The Mix

The Mix provides information and advice for under 25s, giving young people the resources and tools to make informed decisions about their mental and physical well-being.  From mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs, The Mix covers a huge range of topics across a variety of different channels and platforms, and using a wide range of media.  They reach over 3 million young people across the UK.

Young people play a key role in the support offered by The Mix.  This is in part through moderated group discussions and an online peer-to-peer community, as well as a 12-person strong Youth Board and focus groups which allow young people to feedback on and contribute to the design of services.  With support from The Listening Fund, The Mix wants to increase young people’s involvement and further empower them to make informed changes, not just to their own lives, but to the lives of other young people throughout the UK.  And as they explained on a recent visit, they are aiming to do that with data.

Through its myriad different channels, The Mix generates an enormous amount of data about what issues are affecting young people.  They are able to track trends within these data sets, allocate resources accordingly, and use them to inform their policy and campaigning work.  The Mix’s Listening Fund project, their ‘Listening Hub’, aims to democratise this information, using quantitative and qualitative data to improve services and give young people more tools to make their voices heard on issues which matter to them.

The Listening Hub has the potential to improve services in a multitude of ways.  It will improve the website’s ability to draw together relevant information based on what a young person is currently viewing, and therefore increase the likelihood that they find the resources they need.  It will provide the user with data about how many people have accessed similar information across different channels, thereby reassuring them that they are not alone in tackling this issue – a strong motivation according to the young people who have helped co-design the hub to-date.  The Listening Hub will also increase opportunities for feedback from those using the website, helping the Mix to directly hear from young people about what information they want and need.

It is perhaps in relation to social action, however, that The Listening Hub has the biggest ambitions.  Whilst the design is still being finalised with the help of two more focus groups, the objective is that young people will be able to access and use The Mix’s data to inform and lead their own campaigns, providing them with rich evidence to help shape their ideas and support their positions.  Some of this data will be available in bite-sized pieces which young people can share on different channels, raising awareness of issues such as mental health, and where help can be sought and found, with peers. If they want to go further, website users will be able to access a variety of tools to interrogate The Mix’s data and to build a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by their contemporaries.  Finally, The Mix are investigating the potential for having young people nominate and vote on which policy issues the organisation should campaign on, thereby not only supporting young people to raise their voices directly, but also listening to young people when deciding how to use the organisation’s resources and expertise.

Inevitably, listening on such a large scale surfaces challenging questions: with 3m unique users, what scale of listening is representative?  How do you engage fairly with a range of different opinions and make sure those raising their voices feel heard? How do you ensure you hear from those who aren’t immediately excited by data, and what can you do to make sure that the tools you produce are as accessible as possible?

We are interested to learn from how The Mix tackles these challenges, and others which will emerge over the next year of development, and we are excited to see how the Listening Hub impacts upon the organisation, as The Mix shares its resources, information and power with young people.