Blagrave Trust Thu, 13 Oct 2022 12:08:32 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 We are looking for a storyteller! Wed, 12 Oct 2022 12:14:24 +0000 History illuminates the capacity and courage of young people to drive change, but for too long their ideas have been restricted or constrained.  Power is often held by adult-led initiatives that end up speaking on their behalf / controlling and leading their ideas. The Challenge and Change fund exists to change that and move power and resources to young people.

We have just awarded funding to the second cohort of 26 young lived experience leaders. This is in the form of grants of up to £10,000, being made to individuals, collectives and movements, tackling a wide range of social issues to challenge social injustice.

Blagrave is seeking a brilliant communicator who can build strong relationships with our  Challenge and Change partners and support them to share their stories of social change with the wider world.

To read the Storyteller Partner Description please click here and you are welcome to get in touch with our Youth Led Change Programme Lead Rochell Rowe if you have any questions at

Applications close at 5 pm on 28th October 2022. Interviews will take place the week commencing November 7th 2022.

Jo Wells’ outgoing reflections Thu, 28 Jul 2022 12:03:23 +0000 Jo Wells joined Blagrave as Director in 2012. Within a decade of being in the position, Jo dramatically transformed the Trust to be a much more thoughtful and intentional funder of change for and with young people. She had overall oversight over all funding partnerships and set the Blagrave Trust in a strategic direction, reinforcing our mission, and living our values. Jo had worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years before joining Blagrave and is passionate about ensuring that young people on the hard edge of injustice have a voice in decisions affecting them.

To celebrate 10 wonderful years of Blagrave under Jo’s wise and kind leadership we arranged a conversation between herself and Eli Manderson Evans, the new CEO of the Blagrave Trust. These are the final words, advice, and wisdom Jo has shared with Eli as the new CEO. The questions Eli asked Jo were shared with him by the staff team at Blagrave. The Blagrave Trust shares huge gratitude for all of Jo’s time, energy and vision.

If you are having trouble viewing the videos below, they can also be watched via our YouTube channel.



The Story of the Blagrave Trust

The previous CEO, Jo Wells who has been in the position for ten years tells us how the Blagrave Trust has developed over the years.



Message to the Sector

Jo Wells tells us her last words of wisdom to the sector before leaving the Blagrave Trust after 10 years.



Learning & Advice

Jo Wells after being the CEO of the Blagrave Trust for ten years gives us insight into what she has learnt over the years and advice moving forward for anyone in the sector.




Jo Wells gives young people and the new CEO of the Blagrave Trust Eli Manderson Evans advice on Philanthropy.



Diversity Data of our Trustees, Staff and Advisers Tue, 26 Jul 2022 12:53:44 +0000

The Blagrave Trust is committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion among our workforce, and eliminating unlawful discrimination.


The aim is for our workforce, including our Staff team, the young people employed as Advisers to our programmes, and our Trustees to be truly representative of all sections of society and our stakeholders, and for each employee to feel respected and able to give their best.

In all we do we seek to proactively engage, understand, and draw on a range of young perspectives that represent the rich and varied identities and differences that exist in the UK today. We therefore actively strive to ensure that our Trustees, Staff, and Advisers model this commitment. In upholding equity we believe in equality of opportunity and access to information and resources for all. We believe this is only possible in an environment built on respect and dignity for young people and their contributions. In affirming the value of inclusion we are building a culture that actively invites the contribution and participation of varied young people at all levels. We believe every person’s voice adds value, and we strive to create balance in the face of power differences. This is a core part of our DEI commitments and central to our strategy.

We intend to carry out an annual diversity monitoring survey of Trustees, Staff, and Advisers to help us track the diversity of our people as part of this commitment. We recognise this is only one lens to view diversity, equity and inclusion, but we are providing this data because as a funder we want to use it to help us understand how we reflect the communities we seek to serve and drive further transparency and accountability across the sector.

This is our first year of monitoring this data, however from now on it will be repeated annually. Questions focused on a number of characteristics including age, disability & health conditions, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, as well as whether our people identified as sharing the lived experience of the young people we serve.


We had 32 responses including:

  • 8 out of 9 Trustees (reflective of the fact one of our trustees is currently on maternity leave)
  • 9 out of 8 staff responses (reflective of a staff member leaving the organisation)
  • 15 out of 23 advisers (reflective of it being optional for all our advisers)


Below, you can find the results of our most recent survey. We have represented Trusttees in blue, Staff in grey, and Advisers in pink/purple.




Disability & health conditions








Sexual orientation



Lived experience


How we approached our transformation Mon, 16 May 2022 11:19:08 +0000 This blog was taken from an article written for the ACF‘s Trust and Foundation News (TFN), Spring 2022 edition.

Jo Wells, director of the Blagrave Trust, chaired the Stronger Foundations working group on strategy and governance. Here, she reflects on her organisation’s strategic approach to their recent transformation.

In 2021, the Blagrave Trust launched its four-year strategy. It was the culmination of a deep and complete transformation – from a modest and broad focused regional funder, to one that focuses on 14 to 25 year olds and is known for its passionate and authentic commitment to their lived experience and potential as changemakers. I’ve been asked to reflect on some of the defining features of our strategic approach that have supported this transformation.

Many foundations think deeply about their relevance to context in a rapidly changing world and how an analysis of power plays out in strategy and governance decisions – elements we cited in the Stronger Foundations report. But perhaps if anything marks out Blagrave as distinct, it’s the scale and speed of the change. I’d like to share the ingredients that have supported that clarity of purpose.

Proximity to mission

Throughout our evolution, we have consciously sought to be proximate to the partners we fund. We have always understood that creating space in our day to day for conversations that go beyond transactional grant-making deepens understanding and connection to mission, something I described as ‘reducing the social distance’ in a blog some years ago.

In the last three to four years, we became more intentional about cultivating and diversifying our networks of young people, outside mediated youth sector interactions. And, explicitly centering young people in our day to day, through ongoing board reform, including young people in our team, and working with whole groups of paid young advisors.

While there is still so much more for us to do, this proximity has been the driving force of decisions and culture and is translatable to any foundation with any remit. For example:

  • Young people bring clarity on racial justice and rights; responsible investing; attention to care and wellbeing; and most importantly, what it means to grow up feeling marginalised and what they need to change that (for example, voice, power, access to resources, to be listened to). You don’t need to be have direct relationships with your so-called ‘end users’ to know these things. You can read about them anywhere, and yet, deep work of this nature rooted in social justice is still marginal. I believe that proximity has created urgency, empathy and a responsibility to act, which in turn drives accountability.
  • Rejecting a thematic focus. This can feel counter-intuitive when it comes to strategy – investing in a sector to focus impact is a compelling and legitimate choice. But, young people facing and challenging social injustice remind us that it’s the distance between those with power and those they profess to serve that perpetuates the systems that aren’t working for them. This has stretched our understanding of intersectionality and centred our strategy away from unaccountable systems to facilitating and strengthening voice, empowerment and listening as the route to change.
  • By directly knowing young changemakers, we have genuine confidence in young people’s potential. We do not believe for a second that all young people can or want to be changemakers. But for those who do, we do not confuse token participation with genuine access to power. There is no question that we would not have had the confidence to start funding young campaigners directly, had we not already had direct relationships, and without a diverse and young board that instinctively understands this work. It has enabled us to take risks that we wouldn’t otherwise have done.
  • Proximity has given us credibility in the eyes of young people and that is a precious asset. It has also meant that the people applying to us as young advisors, trustees, or team members has naturally diversified. At a time when foundations continue to rightfully be under scrutiny for their lack of diversity, this is worth reflecting on. In our recent recruitment for a new staff post, we stated we would shortlist a minimum 40% ethnic diversity, but were easily able to meet a much higher percentage. This must be a joyous, collaborative and interesting journey, not a painful tick-box exercise to be delivered.
  • Finally, closing the gap between the CEO who leads on strategy and those we serve, is crucial – there is no place for distance when it comes to centrality of mission. We all strive to be good and do the right thing, but not knowing people directly allows us to avoid confronting human truths.


Mindset and culture

They say culture eats strategy for breakfast, and it’s taken me some time to fully grasp how important the connection between strategy and culture is in the field of social change (too long, actually). Elements of our culture that have been key to our change include:

  • A commitment to living our values. If you want to change the world, you surely have to start by changing yourself. Any acts of trust, active listening or bringing in new voices to our work, subvert the philanthropic status quo and helps to unlock deeper understanding. The way we behave towards our partners and each other, the tone of our board meetings, who’s allowed in the space, is intrinsic to systems change. As a team we have learnt a huge amount, with more to come, about how we are creating safe, inclusive and equitable spaces for young people internally and across our programmes, and how we can model a philanthropy that rejects traditional assumptions about people’s abilities and knowledge. This learning takes time and is not always easy as it requires an introspection and honesty that doesn’t align naturally with a ‘professional’ setting. But self-reflection is essential if we are to stand in solidarity with those who are using their lived experience to create change. It deepens our understanding of where we need to cede control, and a greater emphasis on how we act in service of others, not ourselves.
  • Not being limited by what we know. So much of what we envisage and imagine is limited by the parameters of existing sector norms and what we think is doable, rather than what might be possible. Call it innovation if you will but I rather think of it simply as optimism. Taking a punt on trying the new has been a big part of our learning journey, as well as a conscious attempt to subvert power dynamics that exist:
      • changing governance to bring in lived experience and young people with no previous governance experience
      • setting up a fund that focuses entirely around the concept of listening (
      • resourcing young campaigners directly in a process designed and led by them
      • convening funders around an idea and using our power to leverage wider funds (youngtrusteesmovement. org) saving our partners time and bureaucracy.

There is so much more work to do across the funding system – so many bold and fresh ideas, end up translated into a transactional set of grants. These grants comprise a large proportion of Blagrave’s work, so we are by no means immune, but we try to be alive to greater possibility.


  • Listen, learn, adapt … listen, learn, evolve … repeat!

Continuous evolution is something that any grassroots voluntary sector organisation learns to be adept at, surviving and responding to their communities, political and socio-economic context. It requires energy, and the humility to course correct and acknowledge failure.

And while listening without acting is de-motivating and can be extractive, listening then iterating is also exciting and motivating in its offer of progress. An entrepreneurial mindset is not to be confused with a lack of strategy – we understand that taking a long view is something that independent funders are uniquely privileged to do. But a long-term strategy that has no place for learning in real-time, in the fast-moving world of today, can quickly lack relevance – if not in its vision, which may be bold and important, then in its execution.

So, back to strategy. Aside from the obvious direction setting, a first function of strategy should be to transparently communicate who we are and what and for whom we stand for. We hope our new strategy is accessible, clear and inspiring for any current or future partner, individual or organisation, but first and foremost to young people (who helped us shape it of course!).

The last function of strategy, should be to hold us to account. We know that if we stray, young people will lose interest in being proximate with us, and that provides us with a real clarity of purpose.

Paid opportunity for young people aged 18-25 to shape funding decisions in the South East Thu, 05 May 2022 11:28:32 +0000 We are recruiting! 

Are you 18-25, living or working in the South East of England, and passionate about improving outcomes for young people? We are recruiting six paid adviser roles for our new regional grants programme, Restart Youth. the deadline for your application is 1 June 2022.

The aim of our Restart Youth fund is to ensure youth organisations are reaching young people who are experiencing social injustice in the region.

Last year, this programme gave out £220,000 to youth charities in the South East, with young people taking the grant making decisions. We employed a group of six advisers with experience of services to guide us. Now we want to take this work further and employ six more who will have significant influence on our strategy in
the region over the coming year.

Your role is to ensure we are centering the thoughts of young people in our funding using your lived experience and firsthand knowledge as a young person. We are particularly keen to hear from young people who have personal experience of receiving support from youth organisations themselves and have views on what support youth services should be providing.

Read the Adviser Role Description When you’re ready to apply, click here. We look forward to hearing from you!


Blagrave appoints Eli Manderson Evans as new CEO! Thu, 28 Apr 2022 17:02:26 +0000 The Blagrave Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of our new CEO, Eli Manderson Evans!

Eli will be joining the team at the end of May, and Jo will formally end her time with Blagrave on the 16th June after they have some time for handover.

“We are hugely excited that Eli will be leading Blagrave through this next, exciting phase. Eli brings an incredible wealth of skills and experience to the role, I and all the Trustees are very excited to be working with Eli to build on Jo’s incredible legacy and to lead our work taking forward Blagrave’s crucial mission.” – Peter Babudu, Chair of Blagrave Trust


Eli is passionate about all things social justice and is excited to join the Blagrave Trust to further our work to empower young people to create the change they want to see in the world.  He joins us from Ten Years’ Time where he was the Head of Social Justice and led research to address systemic challenges in society and philanthropy and consulted funders to centre the needs and voices of the communities they sought to support. Eli is a proud northerner who now makes London his home.


Young people in the South East – regional research Wed, 27 Apr 2022 14:23:54 +0000 We are looking for a research partner!

Our regional grant making supports youth organisations in Berkshire, Hampshire, Sussex and Wiltshire that work with young people facing social injustice.

We are looking for an independent researcher or research organisation for a piece of qualitative research to help us deepen our understanding where in our region young people have significant needs that are not being met by existing support agencies. We particularly want to understand emerging needs that are not being well served by mainstream services.

More details can be found in the attached regional research brief

Deadline for expressions of interest: 6 June

Budget: £10,000

For more information please contact Tessa Hibbert on

Collaboration or POP! What I learned about collaboration from a trip to Plymouth POP Wed, 27 Apr 2022 09:21:49 +0000 Reflections by Tessa Hibbert, regional partnerships manager, Blagrave

Alongside Blagrave’s national programme of grant making, we support a network of over 50 regional youth charities in the SE of England with long term, unrestricted funding for their service delivery work.

We regularly ask these partners for feedback about our support. One of the things they ask for most often is to share and connect their work with others working in a similar space. Coming out of the pandemic, opportunities to foster relationships and collaborate seem increasingly rare.

For our part, we want to do everything we can to bring about a collaborative sector that prioritises learning. We strongly believe that the best organisations are those that collaborate, reflect, and are driven by an accountability to who they serve and their mission.

But how to do this well? We want to think carefully about how to make sure whatever support we offer our partners to encourage collaboration is truly valuable. We want to be led by, and in service of, the needs of their organisations and the young people they serve.

I went to visit our partner and fellow funder, the fantastic Plymouth POP, to find out more about their approach. POP provides infrastructure support and funding for charities, social enterprises and movements in Plymouth.

Plymouth collaboration

POP actively works to support collaboration in the Plymouth voluntary sector by prioritising funding for collaboration and encouraging transparency through open submission of bids and member rating. This has led to a shift in the sector in Plymouth, with 21 collaborations of three or more partners accessing funding and support from POP including capacity building, learning support and networking.

POP and their partners generously shared their learning with us.


Here’s 5 things I learned about collaboration that day

  1. Support for collaboration doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s enough to bring together a group of people who have values alignment and offer them a shared space to grow.
  2. Collaboration needs to be valued. This means funders need to resource the thinking and talking time that goes into collaboration as well as the outputs.
  3. Extending collaboration beyond existing networks is challenging. If this is an explicit goal, then partners need help to achieve this – and that sometimes means challenge.
  4. Working on a shared vision is important. A project offers something for a collective to ‘get their teeth into’. But they need to retain the flexibility to abandon or amend this if it doesn’t work out.
  5. Collaboration isn’t always the right option. Some initiatives need time to refine and develop an existing model before extending the work to others.

All useful learning and groundwork for Blagrave’s future work on collaboration and shared learning. But the most important learning for us was around power. We are not an impartial player in all this. The key point made by POP’s partners was this one:

  1. Partners don’t just want to collaborate amongst themselves. They want and value true collaboration with funders. Funders themselves need to be prepared to genuinely collaborate by offering relationship based funding, unrestricted long term gifts and being open about their weak points.


A community is strongest if it grows together.

Watch this space as we continue to explore how we can best foster further collaboration among our partners and the wider sector and please do get in touch if you want to learn more or collaborate.


We are looking for a youth facilitator! Tue, 05 Apr 2022 12:55:30 +0000 We will be running our regional grants funding programme Restart Youth agan in 2022!

We will be recruiting a group of 6 advisers – young people with experience of services in the SE Region – who will have significant influence on our funding decisions in the region over the course of a year.

To support the advisers, Blagrave wants to appoint a skilled facilitator who can work with them as they help shape our grant-making in the region. As an independent facilitator, you will play an essential role in ensuring all those involved in decision making have an equal voice, including ourselves.

The brief for this work is here; do circulate it and you are welcome to get in touch if you have any questions to Applications close on 25th April. Interview date 28 April.

Blagrave Trust feedback 2021! Wed, 30 Mar 2022 15:43:43 +0000 Throughout 2021, we invited all applicants and partners to provide us with some anonymous feedback regarding their grant experience with the Blagrave Trust. At Blagrave, we have critically assessed all of the feedback received from the four key grant making surveys.

Blagrave Trust’s philosophy of being transparent, trusting, and adaptive has really shown in the feedback this year; many of our partners feel supported, collaborative discussions, simple flexible application approach and transparent about consulting with young people.

We have done a four-year comparison to reflect on the data and see where we have and can improve, and the full report can be found here. Blagrave is committed to consistently adapting our work and evolving in response to what we learn.