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  • Betty Mayo and Thalia Papanicolaou

Values for co-production between Young People + Organisations

Esmée's Involving Young People Collective share 10 values for co-production between young people and organisations. In this blog, Thalia and Betty, from the Collective, share how the work developed as well as their hopes that it will help to start conversations on best practice.


The Involving Young People Collective has spent the past 18 months working alongside Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to co-create a set of values that can serve as an indication of best practice for involving young people.

The idea was initially born out of a hackathon that we ran with Esmée staff in 2020. As a collective, we recognised that Esmée is not the first grant-making foundation to involve young people in their decision-making processes, so we started by researching other foundations and programmes similar to ours. There was a sense that best practices for involving young people already existed, but that there was no guidance out there that was produced directly by young people. Following this, a section of the Collective led on this work and began to look into work that already existed.


How we developed the values

As a result of a lot of reading, thinking and listening over the past year, we have been able to gather learning from other funders and programmes like ours. In January 2021, the Collective hosted a roundtable conversation with staff and young people from other funders and organisations with programmes that involve young people in decision-making processes.


The purpose was to gain a richer understanding of what is required to create a sustainable and genuinely inclusive programme for young people. We combined these conversations with our own experiences of our work with Esmée - leading on Hackathons and Innovation Sprints, and supporting grant assessments - to build a comprehensive understanding of what best practices for involving young people could look like.

Whilst these values were devised by three of the Collective, our fellow Collective members have all read over the values, chopped, changed and added to them to create a list that we feel truly represents us as a group. We hope to keep this list as a working document, constantly adapting the values as we consider new ways of working and needs that we may have not come across yet.

We are by no means creating the blueprint to co-production with young people as we stand on the shoulders of SO many other organisations that have been successfully doing just this. But we do want to share our learnings along the way. By doing so, we hope it encourages other organisations who want to involve young people in their work but are unsure of how to start, to take a leap.

What are the next steps?

Now that we are at the end of formulating the values, we are taking a number of steps both internally and externally to officially launch this project.

With Esmée, we will be assessing how we work together and any processes that the Collective have been a part of against the values, and we will use evidence-based reporting to determine how well we’ve been doing. This will produce a set of action points that we can put in place to ensure that we are holding ourselves, as well as Esmée up to the values. This will also include the Collective creating a clear process for implementing the values throughout every project that we undertake. We will also make sure that all learning and feedback we give is completed using the values.

Another initial step for launching the values will be to create a community of practice for young people in similar programmes to us. We will use this to share knowledge and make sure that the values remain relevant and up to date to the experiences of young people in the charity sector.

Let us know what you think!

In the spirit of this being a working document and practising our culture of learning, we want to know what you think! What values do you think are vital to co-production between young people and organisations? Do get in touch by email to Keji at HUDL Youth Development Agency, who facilitates the Collective's work with Esmée. A BIG thank you to all of the organisations we have read on and spoken to over the past few months! They include:

  • Blagrave Trust

  • Cripplegate Foundation

  • Islington Giving

  • National Lottery Community Fund

  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation

  • Roundhouse

  • Sunrise Movement

  • UK Student Climate Network

  • Virgin Money Foundation

And the following literature:

  • Advocacy Academy's Advocates Charter

  • Hart’s Ladder of Young People’s Participation

  • Deciding together: Shifting Power and Resources through Participatory Grantmaking - GrantCraft

  • Top 10 Best Practices for Youth-Led Innovation and Change - FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund and Global Fund for Women

  • Hackney Youth Charter

  • Peer Power's Code of Ethics


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