We want to live in a society where all young people have the opportunities to use their skills and energy to lead fulfilling and enjoyable lives, and to make a meaningful contribution to the communities in which they live.
There are significant barriers to realising this ideal, including low youth employment, unaffordable housing, technology-driven change, as well as structural challenges to communities and society at large.
Our ambition is to enable young people to successfully overcome these obstacles and to challenge the thinking, systems and prejudices which have led to their creation.
To realise this goal, we are supporting youth-focussed organisations throughout England to better listen to young people, and to respond to what they hear – ready to change how, when, and where they work, and even ready to change what services they deliver.
Our hope is that, through more attentively listening to young people, The Listening Fund partners will not only provide improved services to young people, but also empower them, making them feel valued and amplifying their voice. As a result, young people will be able to influence and lead change themselves, rather than be treated as a problem to be solved.
How we work
In 2017, 22 organisations were chosen to be Listening Fund partners and their projects started in Spring 2018.
During the two-year project, The Listening Fund is being evaluated by the Centre for Youth Impact. Their findings will be shared widely as we encourage the sector to learn from the programme and reflect on how the sector works, whose voices are heard, and where power lies.
The Listening Fund in England is supported by The Big Lottery Fund, Blagrave Trust, Comic Relief and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and it is being managed by the Blagrave Trust. The CORRA Foundation is leading on the establishment of a sister fund in Scotland.
There appear to be a number of reasons for the lack of engagement with young people: the traditional belief that young people lack the capacity to understand complex issues, and that decision-making is best left to the (adult) experts; that listening to young people might undermine the authority of adults; that young people will have unrealistic expectations and will inevitably be disappointed; that, in times of austerity, listening to young people is a low priority; and that the requirement to be seen to listening to young people can be met by engaging with the most compliant young people.