Helen McLellan, Manager of the Listening Fund
At Corra Foundation, one of our key learnings to emerge over the past three years is that the most powerful way to create lasting change is through working alongside others, in partnership. That could be working with other funders to maximise impact, or working with individuals and communities listening to lived experiences in order to create positive change.
In June 2016, in partnership with the Scottish Government and The Robertson Trust, Corra Foundation published Everyone has a Story, an action learning project aimed at increasing and understanding the experiences and stories from children and young people whose parents were in recovery from alcohol and or other drugs. The findings and recommendations from this project identified many elements that could contribute to supporting a change in dynamics and delivery, ensuring needs are met and reinforcing the rights of children and young people including:
• Allowing more space and time to listen and reflect on what children and young people want and need.
• Independent funders taking a more proactive approach to implementing mechanisms that will support and recognise the voice and experience of children and young people.
One of the critical points of feedback from Everyone Has a Story was the ‘importance of active listening’, how important this is to all children and young people and the substantive and long-term benefits being listened to can have.
With 2018 being the Year of Young People in Scotland, it has never been a better time to really, truly invest in listening to the voices of children and young people and make changes that last well beyond this year.
Corra Foundation, in collaboration with the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, The Gannochy Trust and William Grant Foundation have committed to £425K to the development of a Listening Fund based within Scotland. Based on learnings from the Listening Fund in England, which is a two-year fund, supporting 22 partners across England who work with young people facing disadvantage, the fund in Scotland aims to invest in organisational capacity to ensure charities can better listen to and respond to those children and young people they exist to serve. It is hoped that, as a result of this funding, organisations will be better equipped to support children and young people to be critical in influencing and leading change themselves.
We’re currently engaging with local and national youth organisations to ensure that children and young people are fully engaged with the developmental phase of The Listening Fund in Scotland, and the focus for the next 2-3 months will be to ensure that they have been fully listened to and have influenced the direction of the fund. Following this development phase, organisations will be invited to apply to become partners of The Listening Fund (Scotland) in early 2019. Our hope is that collectively as funders, we will learn more effectively about the practical and supportive steps needed to respond meaningfully to the views of children and young people.
Ultimately, we hope that the Listening Fund (Scotland) will support organisations in a way that results in many more children and young people enjoying their rights to be heard, listened to and involved in decisions that affect their lives.