Catching up with two of our Future Communities Collective 

Image of Future Communities Collective, two of our trustees, and colleagues from the Co-op Foundation and HUDL. Some of the people are on a screen behind people, on a video call.

We recently caught up with two of our Future Communities Collective (FCC)  – the group of diverse young people shaping our new strategic fund and making funding decisions here at the Co-op Foundation. 

This is part of our wider commitment to sharing power with young people, an integral part of our new strategy. To this end, we’ve also signed #iwill’s Power of Youth charter – you can check out our #FutureCommunities podcast to find out more about how we’re working with young people. 

Halima, 25 works with the local authority, delivering the coordination and facilitation of progressive equity, diversity and inclusion activities. Yasmin, 23, works for the Co-op’s marketing department and sits on the Co-op Young Members Group. They have been part of the group making decisions about who to fund through our Future Communities Fund (FCF). This fund is supporting organisations to help diverse young people become leaders and activists, which is why we felt young people had to be a part of the grant-making process.  

We also involved two of our trustees who are under 30 in this process George Imafidon and Mahalia Flasz, as panel members. Both were delighted to work alongside other passionate young people and be part of this journey towards a new way of working.  

We asked Halima and Yasmin about why they joined us at the Co-op Foundation and what they have learned about grant-making, sharing power and making an impact through allocating funding for the Future Communities Fund.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Co-op Foundation and Future Communities Collective? 

Halima: For me, it’s around positive impact related to equalities for young people. What was great about the Future Communities Fund is that they wanted to have young people’s voices represented in the decision-making process through the Future Communities Collective because young people were the ones who would be impacted by the funding.   

Yasmin: Having a youth voice in decisions that impact young people is crucial. Lots of organisations can do it in a kind of tokenistic way – however this has been fully integrated from start to finish. Just having the opportunity to elevate youth voice so that others who don’t have that same opportunity can be represented is good, because what we’re doing now is going to impact them inevitably in the future. 

What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of the FCC? 

Yasmin: I’ve really enjoyed meeting everybody else on the panel, and learning about their unique backgrounds. I enjoyed learning how that influences the way they think and their experiences. It’s really good to have exposure to different cultures and ways of thinking and it’s definitely changed the way that I think about certain things, which is always great.  

Halima: I definitely agree with Yasmin on that. I think it’s the fact that I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals from different backgrounds and we all have the ambition to create a positive difference within the community and make lasting change.  

What’s great about the Co-op Foundation and the FCC is the focus on creating diverse, equitable and inclusive communities and prioritising youth activism, shared power and transparent governance. Those two linked key priorities I think can showcase how much progress we are making as a society, but also how we can influence society to incorporate these two important elements.  

What have you learned from being a part of this group? 

Halima: I’ve learnt quite a lot of different things about challenges we face around decision-making but also the value around youth activism. Everyone has a say and an influence in the FCC, and people’s voices are heard no matter what, which is great.  

Yasmin: It’s been really interesting to learn about some of the complexities of grant-making and funding organisations and what things might limit an organisation’s application – it was different to what I initially thought.  

I’ve learnt so much about grant-writing and how to consider unconscious bias and a lot of the different factors that would influence an application succeeding or not succeeding. Whilst an application can be incredibly well-written, it’s not always black and white – you have to think through shades of grey and contextual issues. This has been great to learn about and have some insight into for the future.  

Why do you think it’s important that young people have a say in decision-making? 

Halima: Young people are the future leaders and the future decision makers, so it’s important to get us at the forefront of decision making at the start of it, whilst we’re young. We have different perspectives on life, we have different understanding of our personal experiences – our lived experiences. Bring this into decision making and it will inform better outcomes that are representative of the young people in today’s society. 

Yasmin: Having a youth voice is so important – we are the future. Having an opportunity to contribute from an early age is brilliant because young people can network with other people who are inclined to do the same. The more like-minded people you surround yourself with, that care about social justice and speaking up for others, the more doors you open up. We’re stronger as a collective together, with all of our resources and tools. So if we can age and have a wider network of people who are like-minded in wanting to create change, the future surely is better for that. 

What’s next 

Working with the Future Communities Collective has been a hugely rewarding learning experience for everyone involved. We’ve developed a new way of putting young people at the heart of our funding decisions. In the process, we’ve been able to support organisations developing the leaders of tomorrow.  

Find out more about how we’ve funded 13 amazing new partners through the sharing power with Halima, Yasmin and the Future Communities Collective.  

Sign up to our blog below to keep up to date with what the Collective and our partners are doing, and to be the first to find out about funding or participation opportunities. 

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