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Author Sophie Humphries
Member of the Spirit of 2012 Youth Advisory Panel
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Youth Voice: Researching a Fund

Being part of Spirit of 2012’s Youth Advisory Panel empowers me to use my voice to create change through contributing to Spirit’s decision-making process. This year, I joined the YAP Challenge Fund Research Group, set up to develop ideas, priorities and outcomes that we wanted our fund to achieve, both for Spirit and the beneficiaries of the chosen project.

Being part of the research and development team for our challenge fund meant finding out where the gaps in funding were and the areas that were the most deprived. This was a challenging job because being a group of young people who passionately want to make a change, we found it difficult to agree on what areas were important to us – apparently all of them!

This meant we had a broad base as a starting point, researching varying demographics including GRT’s, refugees, the homeless, the elderly, students and any other community you could think of. We found it was best to start with WHO we wanted to support and to develop the WHERE and WHAT through our research.

Moving onto the WHAT, we wanted each project proposal to be a different activity focus so we could establish where our passions were as a group. We proposed one of physical activity, one on an arts activity and one on a cultural experience across generations.

So what about the WHERE? From the beginning, we agreed that any project would incorporate green or blue spaces in a way that used the environment for its mental and physical benefits. This meant exploring the UK for the areas with greenery or access to water in some way. This was a tricky task - we found that there were both many areas without green space available (mainly cities) but also areas that had green space, but it wasn’t being utilised. We also discovered that although there might be a lot of green space in one area, if it's overcrowded, overused or underused it affects the quality of the space, and how much it can benefit the people who live near it. 

This led us into a bluer focus and after researching further into your obvious ‘seaside towns’ we settled on coastal communities, some of which have some of the highest levels of economic and social deprivation in the UK. We couldn’t ignore the statistics and coastal communities became a main location for our proposals.

Once the three proposal were designed and presented to our fellow yappers, it was apparent that there were elements in each proposal that resonated with everyone. We ended up merging all three proposals to create our final challenge fund theme. Without the extensive research that my team did for each proposal, we would never have gotten to where we did for the final fund:

An INTERGENERATIONAL project in a COASTAL COMMUNITY that improves LONLINESS through an ARTS OR CULTURAL ACTIVITY

And that is everything that our new Challenge Fund grantee, Whitley Bay Big Local, is doing. They will create 6 distinct yet linked artworks/installations/artefacts as a unique local trail to reflect place alongside intergenerational stories and themes #WeAreMoreSimilarThanWeAreDifferent, working in partnership with Barnardo's THE BASE at Whitley Bay. 

To find out more about the projects, the organisations and the Spirit of 2012 Youth Advisory Panel, read the announcement press release here