Over the last few years the Virgin Money Foundation has incorporated young people in our decision making regarding grant awards and in the design of grants programmes for young people. A decision initially made because we felt it was the right thing to do, has resulted in unexpected benefits. I have come to realise that this act of inclusion is not simply about giving young people a voice and experiences that will benefit them as they develop their own ways of leading, it is about improving our decision making, bringing insights we would otherwise not gain, shining a light on pre-suppositions we unwittingly hold and ultimately improving the work we do.
This time last year the Virgin Money Foundation decided it wanted to create a Youth Fellowship Programme – a six month programme of leadership training, mentoring, peer support, idea development, travel, research and implementation. We worked with partner organisation Northern Soul to sketch out the idea, excitement built.