Being a Heart of Bucks grant panel member
This article was written by a young person called Pippa.
Heart of Bucks is a charity that awards grants and loan funding to help improve the lives of people in Buckinghamshire. In this case, a grant is a sum of money that charities can apply for in order to fund projects. Funds normally have criteria to hit, such as improving community safety or the wellbeing of young people. A grant panel is where a group of people get together to decide which of the charities that have applied will get funding for their projects.
Following an interest in youth voice from Heart of Bucks and Public Health, three spaces on the decision-making grant panel for the Young People’s Wellbeing Fund were made available for young people, and I got to take part along with two other Youth Voice members, Jess and Chidum.
Youth Voice is a county-wide forum in Buckinghamshire that aims to listen to young people in order to change things for the better.
Preparing for the grant panel
At our April meeting, Youth Voice received training on grant application panels in preparation for participation in one ourselves.
The training itself was interesting and we were told what would be expected of a panel member: this included things such as not being biased and keeping an open mind. We also learnt about Heart of Bucks and what they actually do. I found this particularly interesting because I hadn’t realised how important groups like them were before. To finish off the training session, we looked over a real application for a grant. Using the criteria (things the project had to adhere to in order to receive funding) and priority conditions (if the project applied to these, it had a higher chance of being funded over other projects that didn’t), we read through and then discussed the application, deciding whether or not we would fund the project. We all made good points and came to the unanimous decision we wouldn’t fund it. I kept in mind points made by other members of the group for when I later went on to review applications for the real panel.
Reviewing the applications
I was one of three Youth Voice Bucks members who had interest in (and were able to attend) the panel. The Heart of Bucks team filtered out applications that weren’t eligible for a grant and then sent the remaining applications to us around two weeks before the panel, for review. Reading through each application and taking notes did take some time, but I was glad to have been so thorough as it gave me some good points to make to other members of the panel on the day. We were also asked to rate each project a 1,2 or 3. 1: we would fund this project. 2: we were unsure about funding it. And 3: we wouldn’t fund this project.
Photo of the three Youth Voice members who took part
The grant panel
This rating system was one of the things I found most interesting about the whole process. Many of the decisions made in the panel went against my original rating. However, I found myself agreeing with them. Other panel members brought up ideas and gave opinions based on their experience that changed my thought process. I realised that by keeping an open mind, I made better, more well-rounded decisions that took all perspectives into account. I owe this to the training we received before undertaking the process that suggested we go into the meeting ready to listen and rethink.
Everyone we met at the panel was respectful and shared useful knowledge. We felt listened to as young people and found the support helpful when we were unsure whether or not to raise points.
Here is a quote from Stephen and Emily, fellow panel members, about their opinions of our involvement. Stephen and Emily work for the Council’s Public Health team which provided the money for the Young People’s Wellbeing Fund.
“We really valued the three representatives from Bucks Youth Voice on our Children and Young People’s Wellbeing Fund panel. The young people consistently ensured that the projects being considered for funding had a strong sense of youth voice in their applications and provided valuable insight into the practicalities of engaging young people in the projects. This has demonstrated the benefit of including the views of young residents in the decision making process.”
Photo of the grant funding panel including 3 Youth Voice members
Reflecting on the experience
Personally, I believe this was an amazing opportunity. Not only did it give young people the opportunity to have our voices heard about projects that are supposed to benefit us, but it also gave me a real sense of purpose. I went away from the panel feeling like a more valued member of society and have realised that you don’t need to be an adult to make a difference to people’s lives. As I move forward with my career, this experience will also be useful as it helped me develop my communication, decision making and critical thinking skills, all of which will be vital to me as I continue to grow up.
A huge thank you to Heart of Bucks for allowing us to participate and giving us the needed training to reach our full potential’s as panel members.
Thank you for reading! This article was written by
Author, Disability Advocate, and Youth Voice member
If you’re interested in getting involved in a project like this, consider joining our Youth Voice forum!
How did we listen, act and respond?
The grant funders, Heart of Bucks and the Council’s Public Health team, listened to young people by inviting Youth Voice members to act as grant panel members for the Young People’s Wellbeing Fund.
So that the young people could fully take part in this opportunity, Heart of Bucks provided the young people with training during a Youth Voice meeting.
The three young people that took part were given full grant panel member status. They worked in partnership with the other grant panel members to make decisions about which applications would receive funding.
At the end of the grant panel meeting, the decisions were confirmed by the panel chair. This has also been confirmed in writing to the young people.
All of the adult panel members, including the chair, thanked the young people for their involvement on the day. Stephen and Emily, who were grant panel members from the Council’s Public Health team, provided the quote included in the article above.