“There’s no point of shouting about Birmingham being 40% under 25 if our youth have no future”
Young Person, Brum Youth Trends 2017, via Beatfreeks, a partner of The Listening Fund
For me, the most important part of the work is that the negative experiences I used to hide away inside myself have now become something positive that I can use to help other young people change their lives.
LEAP graduate and young trainer, LEAP Confronting Conflict, a partner of The Listening Fund


When you feel like no one is listening to you and no one cares you start to resent the world, but the Spark Inside coaches made me feel heard and understood and helped me see the world in a different light. I’ve left prison for the last time and I’m not going back.
Participant of the Hero’s Journey, Spark Inside, a partner of The Listening Fund


Who We Are

The Listening Fund is an England-wide partnership which aims to make the youth sector more accountable to those it exists to serve: young people.

The first phase of The Listening Fund in England ran from 2018 to 2020 and focused on supporting change in adult-led organisations. We invested in improvements to their listening policies, practices and cultures.

You can read about what emerged from the first phase under the ‘What We Have Learnt’ section of this website.

The second phase of The Listening Fund, launched in 2021, will continue to support some adult-led organisations but it will also more directly empower young people. We will do this in part by recruiting a group of paid young advisers. They will have significant influence on the Fund, including designing a strategy and recommending decisions for a large, discreet pot of funding. We want this funding to invest in the work that young people prioritise and we are open to challenging our thinking about traditional grant-making strategies, processes and recipients.

How we work

In 2021, 9 organisations were chosen to be Listening Fund phase two partners. Their projects start this Spring.

The second phase of The Listening Fund will run for three years, from 2021-24. In addition to supporting nine partners from the first phase to take their listening work further and deeper, and to share what they learn with the wider sector, we are also recruiting a panel of young advisers. The 10 young advisers will input into all aspects of the Fund’s work as well as leading on the design of their own funding call worth at least £300,000 across the three years of the Fund.

The Listening Fund in England is supported by the Blagrave Trust,  Children in Need, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Tudor Trust. It is being managed by the Blagrave Trust.

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.

Investing in Children, a Listening Fund phase one partner


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