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  • Writer's pictureKeji Okeowo

Esmée and the Involving Young People Collective, Year 3

To help us reflect on how Esmée and the Involving Young People Collective are working together, staff and young consultants complete an annual satisfaction survey based on the 10 values for co-production with young people.


The Involving Young People Collective (IYPC or Collective for short) has been working with Esmée now for over three years. The relationship is facilitated by HUDL Youth Development Agency and the Collective is made up of a group of young people (aged 18 to 26) recruited to work with Esmée as consultants. We work together across a range of Esmée’s work – for example: participating in grant assessments; contributing to our diversity, equity and inclusion working group; and on specific projects such as our Blue Spaces – Wales programme. More recently, we have worked with them to co-design our Youth-Led Creativity funding programme.


Below, we share some of the highlights and challenges that were reported in our 2023 satisfaction survey, alongside recommendations for improvement. We also share more of the survey findings in terms of how well we are living the 10 values for co-production with young people.


Successes and highlights


The impact of the Collective on Esmée continues to be significant and their contribution to Esmée’s work has grown. For instance, originally, consultants were invited to ‘shadow’ the grant assessment process, before becoming actively engaged in the proposal assessment process. Now, consultants work earlier in the process to feed into what is invited at the Expression of Interest stage and their views are directly quoted in recommendations to Trustees. And for our Youth-Led Creativity funding, consultants will be making the decisions on how applications meet the criteria they have co-designed.


They’ve also been integral to the development of new initiatives such as Blue Spaces – Wales where four of the young consultants joined the assessment panel.

Feedback in the survey also reflected the positive relationships within the IYPC and how much they value their working relationships with each other and what they are getting out of the experience as an individual.


Going from no understanding of the work to feeling like working on grants is second nature [is a highlight] - Young consultant

Working with the young consultants helped to bring young people’s insights and expertise to enrich and inform decision-making within the Blue Spaces programme, which we found invaluable. Greater impact will be achieved as a result. Esmée staff

Without the Collective, I would certainly not be the person I am today, and the work I engage in would be fundamentally different. The Collective has had a profound impact that extends far beyond what can be easily observed in Esmée, identified or expressed. This can be attributed to the individuals within the IYPC, who have served as inspiring role models for me. I have continuously aspired to develop their qualities and contributions throughout my time in the Collective.Young consultant

Tensions and challenges


An ongoing challenge is around managing the different capacities and availability of the IYPC and Esmée staff. Since the first survey, we have made some changes – for instance, we have bi-monthly project meetings with Esmée staff, young consultants and HUDL to give key updates, review upcoming activities, share progress and identify further actions. We also use shared documents and folders so it’s easier to collaborate and offer feedback outside of meetings.


Besides their work with Esmée, the young consultants have other roles and commitments, as well as being based across the UK, so managing capacity and availability is likely to remain a challenge.


Communication about work with the IYPC to the wider Esmée team was also highlighted as another ongoing challenge. It’s clear from the survey that both the IYPC and Esmée team are keen to have more opportunities to engage with each other and learn more about the work. This is especially the case for Esmée’s resources and finance teams where there has been less opportunity to work together.


Recommendations and next steps


Having considered all the feedback, the IYPC’s delivery team have put forward three recommendations to take forward:


1. Collaboration


Provide more opportunities for IYPC and Esmée staff to interact beyond grant assessments.

Young consultants are now invited to Esmée’s bi-monthly diversity, equity and inclusion staff working group meetings and monthly lunchtime talks with expert speakers as standard. Doing these in a hybrid format has helped with accessibility. We are also building in IYPC-led sessions including a bi-annual in-person themed workshop.


2. Information sharing and communication


Establish clear communications between Esmée, IYPC and HUDL Youth Development Agency who facilitate our work together.

We will have a coordinator on both the IYPC and Esmée team to improve diary coordination as well as information sharing and communication. Esmée staff will also periodically attend IYPC meetings and we are piloting a bi-monthly IYPC newsletter for staff and young consultants.


3. Space for reflection


Review and improve monitoring and evaluation processes and provide further and more creative avenues for reflection.


We are exploring more creative and timely ways to collect feedback. We will be working on an impact report focusing on the IYPC’s work with Esmée.


2023 satisfaction survey results


The satisfaction survey was first run in 2022. This year, we have added some extra detail and illustration to dive deeper into the ways we embody, and can improve, on how we live the values for co-production with young people.


The survey covers the period between September 2022 and September 2023.

Altogether, we received six responses from the Involving Young People Collective, and 15 responses from Esmée staff.


Satisfaction on the working relationship:


Both the IYPC and Esmée staff gave an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 for the working relationship between IYPC and Esmée. The young consultants were also asked to rate the working relationship with fellow IYPC members and this was given a rating of 4.8 out of 5.

Living the values


Respondents were also asked to give a rating out of 5 on statements that measure the relationship against the values of co-production.


  • The IYPC gave an average rating of 4 out of 5 for eight of the values, with the highest ratings given for ‘Accessibility’ and ‘Celebration and fun’.

  • The two values given the weakest ratings (3 out of 5) by the IYPC were ‘Practices around reflection’ and ‘Measuring and tracking progress’.

  • Esmée staff gave an average rating of 4 out of 5 for five of the values, with the highest ratings given for ‘Accessibility’, ‘Celebration and fun’ and ‘Nothing about us without us’.

  • Esmée staff gave an average rating of 3 out of 5 for the other five values, with the lowest ratings given for ‘Practices around reflection’ and ‘Communicating expectations and accountability’.


More information on the average ratings given against the 10 values is in the charts below.







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