My Choice, My Future
As the final individual grants award run by the Life Changes Trust, in November 2020, we launched our My Choice My Future Awards.
This fund was the result of applying learning from seven rounds of Aspirational Awards, as well as the learning from our Keep Well Fund, which supported young people with care experience during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The Advisory Group, which led on the design and delivery of this initiative, adapted their approach to individual awards based on these key learning points.
The My Choice, My Future fund aimed to support young people aged 18-30 with care experience who:
- were trying something new and taking the first steps towards their long-term aspirations; or
- had a very clear idea of the next step they needed to take to fulfil their long-term aspirations.
Young people with care experience were able to apply for an award of between £500 and £4000.
This initiative also had a broader age range than any of our prior individual awards, supporting young people with at least 3 months of care experience who lived in Scotland and were aged 18-30 years old. The application process was made more flexible as well; in addition to written and video applications the Trust also accepted phone applications, where a young person could talk through their application with a member of staff who would then fill out the application form on their behalf.
Trust staff were proactive leading up to and throughout the application period, reaching out to organisations and workers who already had supportive, caring relationships with members of groups who might face additional barriers to opportunities such as this. As a result, the Trust funded the most diverse group of awardees to date.
A total of 122 applications were eligible for assessment; these were considered by three separate assessors (current or previous members of the Advisory Group), and approval was given to 114 applications with an average award value of £2,076. Of those applications:
- 38 applicants identified as having experience of homelessness
- 6 applicants identified as having experience of youth justice
- 10 applicants identified as being a single parent
- 7 applicants identified as being an unaccompanied minor/asylum seeker
- 16 applicants identified with multiple of the above groups
The Trust has long believed in the value and impact of individual awards, and never more so than with these My Choice, My Future awards. In order to capture some of those effects, we commissioned The Lines Between to write up the ‘Personal Stories’ of some of our My Choice, My Future recipients.
The resulting reports capture sixteen powerful stories of young people with care experience being supported to take a step closer to their ambitions.
These 16 Personal Stories represent:
- Young people from 12 different local authority areas
- 8 young people who identify as female, 7 as male and 1 trans male
- 2 young people who are single parents
- 9 young people with experience of homelessness
- 2 young people with experience as unaccompanied minors/asylum seekers
And the Awards had been, or were planning to be used as follows:
- 9 for Training/Academic Course
- 9 for Equipment
- 2 for Business Start Up
- 1 for Volunteering
- 1 for Research
- 1 for Other (personal coaching)
In addition to the sixteen personal stories, there is a separate summary report which analyses themes that have come out across all the stories and provides more context around the initiative overall.
The Lines Between found that people were able to use their My Choice, My Future award to:
- grasp new opportunities
- build on existing skills and interests
- study or train to position themselves better for improving their employment/career progression
- purchase equipment to support their area of interest
- do all of these things far more quickly than they would have been able to otherwise.
Impacts included practical support, but the funds awarded not only addressed financial barriers through enabling practical support, but also increased credibility, personal, professional, and business development, increased wellbeing and empowerment, and increased self-belief and confidence for many awardees. Some awardees also talked about how this fund had changed perception of, and their relationship with, their own care experience for the better.