Leap Confronting Conflict is a North London-based organisation which works alongside 11-25 year olds to help them better understand themselves and their relationship with conflict, and to use this improved understanding to make changes in their lives. As well as working directly with young people, Leap offers training programmes for those who work with young people and undertakes research into the issues which affect them, lobbying to change both policy and practice.
The programmes Leap delivers is focused on young people in four key areas. They are young people:
– growing up in care,
– at risk of gang involvement,
– not in mainstream education,
– or those who are caught up in the criminal justice system.
Leap’s Listening Fund work is focused on ensuring these voices are involved at every level of the organisation, informing how and where Leap works, and the issues on which it campaigns.
To help drive this work, Leap have used their Listening Fund grant to recruit a Co-production Officer. Abdul Jaleel (AJ) started in October 2018 and when we met him recently, he shared three lessons he has learnt to date:
1 – Starting any new role can be difficult, but starting a new role in which part of your remit is to fundamentally challenge the way in which an organisation sets strategy, operates and makes decision, and who is involved in these processes, is daunting! AJ noted that the wider network of Listening Fund partners has been fundamental to his success to date. Regular opportunities to meet (either digitally or face-to-face) his peers has allowed him to share his doubts, identify useful strategies, learn from others’ experience and develop a framework and language which has helped him build support internally.
2 – Like so many organisations working in the youth sector, Leap has a good track record of engaging with and listening to young people. However, the challenge is to make it meaningful: to not only listen but also to give young people the power to address the problems which they raise, whether they be with your organisation or wider society and systems. Leap are now focused on not just asking young people to explain the problems they face, but also to work with them to identify effective solutions.
3 – Such work is time-consuming and it can also be physically and emotionally tiring. It is therefore vital that young people get as much from the listening process as they offer. AJ is working with young people to identify what they value – whether it be skills, opportunities, or financial reward – and trying to match what Leap ask of young people with what the organisation is able to offer in return.
Leap’s young people have recently been involved with the recruitment of the organisation’s new CEO, using the workshops from which they have benefited to test the candidates’ understanding of the challenges facing young people. AJ is also working with young people to input into the organisation’s new three year strategy and we are excited to see what impact young people can have across the organisation.