Kimberly Garande writes about her experience so far since joining Esmée’s Involving Young People Collective, and we also hear from the three other new young change-makers who have joined.
In November 2021, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation hired four new consultants to join the Involving Young People Collective (IYPC), working to meaningfully involve young people in Esmée’s decision-making processes. Myself, Gemma, Saira and Phoebe were sought from organisations that receive funding from Esmée. Despite our different lived experiences and geographical locations, we were brought together by our passion for youth-led social change.
Why I joined
I joined the IYPC because I am desperate to see meaningful youth participation in the funding sector. My experience as a youth rights campaigner at We Belong has allowed me to confidently assess the issues young migrants like me are facing. Power has felt like an intangible notion for me as a young person, but the IYPC challenges this perception and recognises young people as experts of their experience and their needs. The IYPC has allowed me to move beyond telling my story in the hope for change to being invited to spaces where my dynamic skill set alongside my lived experience could be utilised to set a precedent in how grant-making organisations work with young people.
Power has felt like an intangible notion for me as a young person, but the IYPC challenges this perception and recognises young people as experts of their experience and their needs.
Getting stuck in
The interview process thoroughly guided us through the expectations of us as consultants in the IYPC. It was refreshing to be able to meet Catherine Hillis, Lead for Children and Young People at Esmée at the very beginning of our induction in the same way we were introduced to our IYPC peers. This was extremely helpful as we got the chance to know why the other consultants became part of IYPC. The level of transparency that was given in this space and invitation for openness during the break out room discussions allowed us to freely ask questions and be honest about our expectations before applying.
What is fantastic about the management of the IYPC is that we aren’t expected to know everything. We are provided with background on former discussions and are then trusted to input to the different workstreams of the IYPC. This is not to say that there haven’t been challenges. We have had to adapt quickly to new terminology and seek guidance where appropriate. However, this is a shared learning process (including for Esmée staff) and a sense of mutual respect and determination to advance positive change will enable us to continue learning and growing as a collective.
I am now working in the development sub-group to organise lunchtime talks focusing on different subject areas aligned to our interests. I strongly believe it will foster better working relationships between IYPC members and Esmée staff as this partnership continues to develop. It was stimulating to see the impact the collective had on Esmée’s processes in just a year and I am passionate about contributing to and influencing future strategy at Esmée, and in the wider sector.