We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website.
For more information about the types of cookies we use, and to manage your preferences, visit our Cookies policy here.

Reflecting on our grant-making - lessons learnt from centring the voices of those with first-hand experience

Author: Hilary Cornish, Evaluation & Learning Manager

Hilary Cornish, our Evaluation & Learning Manager, shares some of the key lessons learnt from listening to our grantees when centring the voices of those with lived experience of poverty and inequality in pushing for impactful change.

In 2018 part of our new strategy prioritised strengthening the voice of those with first-hand experience of poverty and inequality. We wanted to ensure, in campaigning projects in particular, that those most affected were able to lead the agenda for change and reform as an important strategy for meaningfully tackling poverty.

In 2020 we’ve seen even more of those projects reporting back formally, as well as a wealth of learning from events and conversations with grantee and applicant organisations, and partners.

Along with many of the organisations we’ve funded, we’ve had to adapt and learn along the way. It has become more than just a different way of thinking about campaigning - it’s also started deeper conversations about what it means to centre the experience of those living with poverty and inequality, what it means to work not just to raise voices but share power, and how it might impact how we organise and work more generally.

This blog post pulls out some of the learning we’ve been hearing from grantees, from interim and final reports as well as less formal conversations and events.

There were three themes that particularly emerged from organisations that we funded to expand or trial projects that strengthened the voice of those with first-hand experience:

We also heard that it wasn’t plain sailing!

We’ve seen real benefits and powerful work come from projects looking to strengthen the voice and the role of people with first-hand experience in leading or guiding them. This is a broad spectrum of work, from projects just starting to explore what listening to those with first-hand experience might mean, to those where leadership comes directly from those with first-hand experience. There is real potential for transformation, and stronger, deeper, more lasting change. But as funders we’re also learning that there are challenges involved and that such projects need to be thoroughly planned and budgeted for so ensuring that we fund them at a level to realistically achieve the results.

Along with grantees we’ve also seen the positives and challenges as a Trust. More than a simple ‘new tactic’ or approach to campaigning, we’ve been on a journey where we have had to be critical of ourselves and explore our own understanding of power relations, trying to ensure that we are also making the changes in shifting power that we expect from the organisations we fund - a process which is ongoing.

If any organisations or funders reading this would be interested in having a chat in more detail about this work, please do get in touch as we would be happy to share learnings and best practice.

13 May 2021


Annual Review - At the Trust at the end of each year we divide up and read through all of the interim and final evaluation reports grantees send us, and along with the conversations, meetings, events and published research we’ve engaged with that year to reflect on the key learning points.