Transforming West Cumbria, mid-term report 2023

PAGE 20 | TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA | PAGE 21 A panel of young people aged 16 to 25 decides which projects receive #CanDo funding. Members, who come from across West Cumbria, are recruited annually, with some choosing to continue as peer supporters. They meet regularly to debate applications for grants of up to £5,000. In total there is £150,000 funding for #CanDo available over three years: £75,000 was donated by Sellafield Ltd and the rest by match-funders Thomas Graham & Sons Ltd, Shepley Engineers Ltd, United Utilities and individual donors. Nearly 30 different organisations that encourage young people to create social change by volunteering and taking part in social action have received funding. The youth panel meetings are facilitated by Soo Redshaw, leadership coach, and their grant decisions go to CCF’s West Cumbria Grants Committee to be ratified. Soo says the #CanDo panel means the scheme is genuinely youth-led. “My role is to chair and sometimes ask questions and prompt. You think, ‘they’re young, they’re going to need support’. They did not. They didn’t always agree and sometimes they had to compromise. But they Started September 2020 27 grants awarded total investment £123,840 2,458 young people have benefitted from the projects £75,000 match funding secured 22 young people have served on the #CanDo Youth panel were thoughtful, practical and conscientious about how they awarded the money and what they approved. They would always ask ‘Will it make a difference?’ and ‘Is it useful?’ For example, one project wanted £1,000 for a laptop. They said, ‘No, we can get four laptops for that’. They were acutely aware of the cost of items.” She added: “Young people can see they’re being taken seriously and they can make a difference.” Gabby Atkinson, 20, lives near Wigton and has been a member of the #CanDo panel for two years. Inspiring youth community action #CanDo enables young people aged 10 to 25 to make a positive difference to their community or local environment, empowering them to lead change None of the panel members knew each other before joining the group but working together forges respect and friendship, says Gabby. “I am much more confident since doing this and I have learned every opinion matters. I think older people have a different perspective. These are decisions impacting our peers. We can bring an awareness of what’s going on with younger people.” The youth panel is supported by CCF’s Learning & Evaluation Officer to evaluate projects funded in the first two years of #CanDo. She says: “Young people aren’t often the organisers or decision makers and so it is really encouraging to have this opportunity. “We discuss each application, and everyone says why they think it’s good or why they have questions. We make sure everyone has a chance to say something. “We have had some really good debates because we have so many different perspectives. It would be easy to give everyone £5,000 but then we might not have enough for next time, so we have to be picky. “We all take it very seriously. It is for our community. The decisions we are making are helping the people we have grown up with, who we live with and help us. “Some of the schemes are for people who have really difficult lives and so we want to help them and help in the best way we can.” Gabby says mental health is a recurring issue, as is isolation in rural communities. “That comes up a lot and is something we take very seriously, because I don’t think anyone hasn’t been affected by Covid and life,” she says. Decision makers: Members of the #CanDo Youth Panel who decide which projects receive funding West Cumbria Rivers Trust’s Youth Panel, funded by #CanDo, on the River Keekle near Whitehaven identifying river invertebrates