Leap turns to young people with lived experience to shape future priorities


Leap Confronting Conflict (Leap) co-ordinated three separate focus groups between young people and Leap’s key stakeholders, including staff, community partners, funders and trustees in creating its Transforming Conflict Together strategy.

Leap’s young ambassadors helped to co-design a programme that supports young people’s school transition
Leap’s young ambassadors helped to co-design a programme that supports young people’s school transition

For more than 30 years, Leap has designed and delivered programmes that transform the way conflict is managed by young people and the adults who support them. By developing creative and adaptable approaches, Leap supports young people to deal with immediate issues, while also addressing some of the longer term, systemic patterns of behaviour that lead to violent and destructive expressions of conflict.

Leap has a strong history of integrating young people’s opinions and voices into programme delivery and organisation strategy. Prior to my appointment as co-production officer in 2018, graduates have been recruited to the board, sat on interview panels and been involved in the design of programme curriculum. My role is about creating consistency in the organisation around our approaches to co-production. We believe that by involving young people with lived experience, our work will be relevant to the needs of young people; increasing both engagement and impact.

In creating our strategy, we listened to young people to understand the challenges they are facing. When we talked to young people key themes emerged. They told us they wanted Leap to support them around: staying safe, social media, race, masculinity and identity. But how did we arrive at this position?

For the first meeting in May 2019, myself along with colleagues organised a workshop between Leap’s senior managers, frontline staff and graduates from the Improving Prospects programme, which is designed to give young people aged 15 to 21 an insight into the causes and consequences of conflict.

We used games like Pattern Ball to build rapport and also to introduce the concept of strategy, its purpose and how it can achieve specific goals.

Our chief executive, Ben Kernighan presented a summary of the environmental analysis and strategy development process to inform conversation about what has changed since 2016 and what are the needs, challenges and opportunities for young people. We made the analysis visual and engaging and we described the process so that the young people would understand where and how their input fed into the process. These process aspects are key in co-production and something that is often ignored.

This process gave young people an opportunity to learn new skills, such as strategic planning, public speaking and leadership skills. Four young people volunteered to share on camera their reflections on the emerging themes (see box) and several young ambassadors had the opportunity to network with an audience of 80 stakeholders: community partners, philanthropists, trusts, corporations and representatives from government departments at the strategy launch in January.

We are committed to building up a culture and practice of co-production across the organisation. Since the strategy launch, we have worked with graduates and ambassadors to co-design a programme that supports young people to make the transition from primary to secondary school. For the next six months, my priorities are to educate all levels of the organisation on power sharing and what this looks like in their area of work by implementing training, policies and processes that can support consistency in co-production across Leap.

My View: Tori Allison-Powell, aged 16

Tori is a Leap graduate who attended the young people consultation day and was one of four to be filmed sharing their thoughts on young people and violent crime for the video.

“I am a black Caribbean girl and I would say that I am very independent for someone my age. I feel safe in my community. It is not perfect; there are good and bad things within the community. However, I do feel like for boys it is more difficult for them. I feel they are targeted, whether that is gang recruitment. They are more targeted to getting stabbed. To me they get stopped and searched much more than girls. So, I feel like within the community they are not safe themselves.”

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