2020 was the year of Can Do, and Bristol City Council community Development gave out grants to organisations to run some social action projects. Youth Moves received £10.000 to run a year-long project in South Bristol.

We employed a worker to run the projects, and had meetings with schools and set up a plan of action. We were all set to go, and then the dreaded lockdown hit us, and things had to be put on hold, leaving us holding £7,500 of the budget, with no real timescale of when this could even happen. 

We discussed various options, and the final decision agreed by all was to allow young people to distribute funding to youth groups in South Bristol. The birth of the South Youth Fund.

Youth Moves workers worked with seven young people from our youth voice group, Youth Opinions, to come up with a plan of how to get the funding to young people across South Bristol.  They unanimously felt the funding should go direct to young people, and they should decide for themselves how to spend it.

Members of Youth Opinions in discussion

The group came up with a set of criteria for the funding which included:

  • Young people had to lead on the application for funding.
  • Youth workers would be the support contact
  • Funding would only be paid into an organisation bank account
  • The funding needed to benefit young people and their community
  • The amount they could apply for was between £500 and £1,500.
  • The groups had to attend a celebration event to showcase how their funding was spent.
  • The groups had to be based in South Bristol

An application form was designed by Youth Opinions, clearly stating the criteria and a cover letter explaining it. This was then sent out to youth organisations across South Bristol, put in local newsletters and agendas for local youth network meetings. 

We had ten applications by the closing date. All were very different and from a variety of organisations, and the final decision was:

To fully fund three of the groups:

  • A disability group for a music and video film making.
  • A local football club who applied for a defibrillator that will be available for the football club and also the community if needed.
  • A Local church-based group who wanted to run activity days over the summer for young people, which included sports, water-based activities and graffiti – providing new experiences for the young people they work with.

To part fund:

  • A community boxing club run by young people.
  • A group of young people in Hengrove park to put on a skate a skate jam
  • A school group to run summer fitness sessions in the holidays.
  • Hartcliffe youth club to create a community space in the grounds of their youth centres and hold a community open day.

The planned projects happened over the summer and in September, and a celebration event was organised on Tuesday 21st September at the Park Centre.

The celebration night for all the youth groups that received funding from the South Youth Fund

Five groups that received funding attended, along with the High Sheriff, a local councillor, Terry from community development, the Youth Moves CEO and a trustee of the board. It was a great event, and gave the opportunity for the Youth Opinions group to celebrate projects, the funding process itself, and reflect on it.

Youth Opinions group member Macy said: "I took part and me and others had to choose who we thought this funding should go to, why and who we think it would benefit the most.

So we all came to a decision and felt these organisations deserved the chance to make a big change or impact. Then after these people got the funding and did their projects we put on a celebration night to see how far they had come, and what the benefits that this funding had made on them and their community."

She added, "Doing this made me so happy to see the young people's faces from being able to achieve their dreams and accomplishments. And knowing I made this happen just from giving out some funding that we had chosen for them, made me feel proud."

The group had learnt the dilemmas in holding the 'power' and making decisions about people's real lives. The Youth Opinions group have done many scenario type activities on decision making, but this was a real live learning experience.  They all thought it would be easy to decide who to fund, but the conversations and debates demonstrated that there is so much more to making responsible decisions that will affect the lives of others.  The young people realised that there was so many more factors to take into account when it is real people, and a real life situation.

Young people interviewing the High Sheriff in the podcast studio at the celebration evening

Now the young people on the panel, feel more than capable and competent to run this process from start to finish.  It has built confidence in communication, organisation and budgeting skills.  Being given full control has demonstrated that all young people have the ability to use their voice at the highest level. We hope that this is a model that can be taken forward and replicated across the city and beyond.

Power to young people!