Social Justice


The Social Justice programme aims to help marginalised individuals and communities become integrated. We see integration as a two-way process in which society at large and specific communities adapt, understand and benefit.

A key ambition is to help organisations give young people who are socially excluded greater voice and influence in public and policy discussions.

The programme does not focus solely on youth sector organisations. Since it was established in 2006, over 200 grants have been made to organisations across sectors including housing, health, refugees and migration, arts, education, disability, domestic violence and criminal justice.

Young people and organisations that support them face enormous challenges: high youth unemployment, austerity, service and welfare cuts. In this difficult and fast-changing context, our Open Grants scheme and Special Initiatives are designed to help organisations adapt by building capacity and undertaking innovation.

We support risk-taking in pursuit of greater impact and, alongside grant funding, may support grantees with evidence and evaluation, leadership development and networking. We particularly welcome collaborative approaches, exploring new ways of combining organisations’ resources; we ourselves collaborate with funders and others where we can achieve more collectively.

Immigration initiative

This year our Supported Options Initiative moved into its delivery phase. This work, focusing on the difficulties faced by young people with irregular immigration status, exemplifies the type of social issue PHF is likely to encounter more: problems characterised by being resistant to resolution and where the effort to solve one aspect of the problem may reveal or create other problems. Our approach has been to combine grant-making with inquiry, research and creative approaches that have included experimenting with digital technology, new partnerships between service providers, a learning set for frontline workers, and a blog documenting the lives of young undocumented migrants.

The initiative, a partnership with US-based foundation Unbound Philanthropy, has engaged in learning and exchange with other US organisations. In February PHF hosted a seminar with Carlos Saavedra, a leading US campaigner on immigration issues. Following a training session with young activists, he addressed an audience of funders, policy makers and NGOs, explaining how a movement of young undocumented migrants made a big impact on US immigration policy. He helped open up a debate, in which we are engaged, about whether and how a similar movement might develop in the UK.

Through our Open Grants scheme, we continue to make around 30 awards each year, now averaging around £125,000 each. This year saw our largest single grant to date, a £750,000 award to Inspiring Scotland to support 22 organisations in its 14:19 Fund. This is the first time the Foundation has invested in such a ‘venture philanthropy’ model. We will engage closely with Inspiring Scotland to share insights on how best to support organisations to spread and sustain high-impact work.

Innovation and risk

Half of our current grants focus on either the development of new services, the adaptation of proven approaches, or changing the way the organisation operates. For instance, this year Canopy Housing, Body and Soul, and Reclaim were all supported around income generation to increase their impact and sustainability.

The programme supports pilot programmes, action research, and work to influence policy. For instance, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice will help push young people’s needs up the agenda as youth justice policy and funding enters a period of flux.

Indefinite Films received funding towards a feature-length film which will introduce to a wide audience the experiences of unaccompanied young asylum seekers in the UK. ‘Leave to Remain’ is a ‘coming of age’ drama in which established professional actors appear alongside young refugees whose acting skills had been developed through taking part in ‘Film School’ training, run by the grantee 1.

We have sought through our funding to encourage radical thinking around the design and delivery of services for young people. At a national level, Law Centres Network was funded to strengthen the capacity of law centres to support young people with legal issues. In the South East, we have enabled YouthAccess
to give young people a central role in helping shape GP services, as part of a larger Department of Health strategic initiative.

We also support new approaches to issues that are emergent, complex and high risk. For example, Public Achievement Ltd initiated a partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, testing a new model of civic youth work in North Belfast. In Glasgow, West of Scotland Regional Equality Council received a second grant to improve the way it captured outcomes data in its ground-breaking work with Roma young people, who face considerable challenges integrating and accessing education and leisure services.

Over the year we added to our growing cohort of start ups. Chance for Change, The Reporters Academy, and Bounce Back are young organisations building up their delivery programmes, and generating evidence of impact. The organisations the programme supports are mainly younger, and we have decided to partner up with other funders in commissioning some research into how charitable trusts can support start ups most effectively.

The Foundation has also, alongside others, been at the forefront of generating different ways of bringing new financial models to the social sector, including social impact bonds. We will continue to do what we can to open up other funding sources for wider benefit.

Collaboration for greater impact

We collaborate with others in a variety of ways – from jointly funding organisations to participating in wider coalitions. We continue, for example, to be active in the Corston Independent Funders’ Coalition. Its Women’s Diversionary Fund, alongside the Ministry of Justice, supported the creation and development of holistic services for women in the criminal justice system in England.

We also continue our involvement with Changing Minds, a small group of foundations funding around negative attitudes to migrants. Our contribution to date has been a grant to Citizens UK to support diaspora young people to forge joint social projects in their local areas and, through a grant to University of Manchester Institute of Social Change, to combat a lack of rigorous data around attitudes to migration and migrants.

It remains unusual for most grants to have a straightforward impact on policy and government funding, but we were delighted with the outcome of an Open Grant to the Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Child Care Trust. It demonstrates that a collaborative approach by funders and delivery partners can achieve change that was unthinkable only several years ago. Our funding, with grants from Big Lottery in Scotland and the Scottish Government, established a pilot Guardianship Service for Unaccompanied Children 2. After two years’ delivery and evaluation, the Scottish Government agreed to continue and increase funding for the service, making it the only one of its kind in Europe. The evaluation is available on our website, and will inform similar services, should they emerge elsewhere in the UK and Europe.

The year ahead

We have four main priorities for the year ahead.

First, we will continue to encourage more high-quality applications from across sectors and parts of the UK that meet our priorities for support. Second, we will work with clusters of grantees to help foster new alliances, knowledge exchange and learning. Third, we will launch a new Special Initiative focused on vulnerable girls and young women, with an emphasis on criminal justice, and our initiative on young people and mental health will enter its final phase. Fourth, in anticipation of a medium-term future of far fewer services and opportunities, we will develop plans for an inquiry into how to unlock the potential of young people who have been excluded from mainstream opportunities.

Special Initiatives

Supported Options Initiative

Support for children and young people with irregular immigration status

£144,019 in 2012/13

Supported Options aims to improve the lives of children and young people with irregular immigration status, through grant-making and assistance. Many children and young people in this situation can be extremely vulnerable and need assistance to address their legal status or consider return. Until now, this area has not been funded.

The initiative funds new approaches to supporting young people and families without legal status, building on existing services. Six organisations are developing different approaches to supporting families or individual young people. The initial phases have included outreach sessions and home visits linked to children’s centres, mental health services and faith settings. The projects are dealing with the immediate practical need for housing, clothes and emergency food. Two projects are providing direct legal representation, with several young people winning legal status to remain in the UK.

Project staff meet regularly as part of a ‘learning community’ to discuss emerging issues and challenges, including successful strategies for legal representation, and how to respond strategically to the concerns expressed by young people.

A second strand of the initiative is research and development to clarify the context for undocumented young people.
In mid-2012, there were significant legal and immigration policy developments concerning young people. Grantees expressed concern about legal advisors’ ability to give advice in the wake of these changes. We commissioned a leading barrister, who identified at least 15 potential legal routes for young people to explore with legal support. We shared her review with our grantees, enabling them to offer clear advice. The document has been published for a wider audience. We also chaired a meeting of lawyers, finance experts, funders and NGOs to explore finance models that might help to secure legal status, and have commissioned further work.

An ongoing action-inquiry into the potential for social media and digital technology to improve advice to young people began with an innovation camp, run by On Road Media, to generate ideas. We awarded seed funding to ‘stress-test’ three ideas: to help orientate newly arrived young people; to develop a safe and secure way for young people to get advice online; and pro-bono legal support for young migrants to access the ‘exceptional funding’ scheme, established by government to act as a safety net for those who become ineligible for legal aid. Following this, we established a working group of experts to guide our plans for implementation of the next steps.

For some undocumented young people, returning to their country of origin is the most appropriate outcome. We undertook a detailed scoping exercise on the advice and support needs of young people facing return. A small development grant to the Refugee Support Network will support 50 young people to return more safely as a result of receiving pre-departure emotional support and practical advice. We are working with our six advice projects on how they engage with the issue of return, and will hold a ‘learning community’ meeting on this topic. We are also engaging with the Scottish Refugee Council’s Guardianship scheme (which we co-fund) to explore returns options with young clients.

A final aim of the Initiative is to bring the voice of young people who are undocumented to the fore, and to be able to reach new audiences. We commissioned photographer and writer Len Grant to work with young people in Manchester. In January 2013, he launched the blog ‘Life Without Papers’, which has been well received within migrant sectors. The blog won the inaugural ‘Speaking Together’ award at the Refugee and Migrant Woman of the Year awards.

The Special Initiative is jointly funded and managed with Unbound Philanthropy, and coordinated by a consultant. A reference group is chaired by Fiona Dawe OBE, advisor to the PHF’s Social Justice Committee. The Institute for Voluntary Action Research is conducting an evaluation.

Right Here

Mental Health Special Initiative in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation

£320,804 in 2012/13

Right Here is a £6m Special Initiative developing new approaches to support the mental health of young people. Working with four partnerships in Brighton and Hove, Fermanagh, Newham and Sheffield, the aim is to create effective support for young people at risk of developing mental health issues, and to raise awareness of mental health among young people and help tackle stigma. Each partner’s approach is to engage young people in the design, delivery and management of projects. They are testing a variety of ways to meet the needs of young people and put young people’s mental health on the policy map.

The four Right Here projects have been engaged in another busy year as they approach the end of their funding. Highlights included the production of a good practice guide for GPs to improve the quality of emotional health advice for young people. This work began as a study by young volunteers at Right Here Brighton and Hove and we believe could have a major bearing nationally on how GPs can better support young people.

“I’ve got the skills to control myself now. I’ve gained a greater understanding and feel more in control and more empowered. If something annoys me now, I think I did that course because I wanted this to stop and that in itself makes me less angry. Knowing that I did it was the biggest benefit and that I can do something about it.”
Service user, ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ course, Right Here Brighton and Hove

Elsewhere, young people’s views have been strongly represented to policymakers, including through a policy roundtable event in Northern Ireland and contributions to Newham Council’s review of mental health arrangements for adolescents and young people. Young volunteers in Sheffield contributed to a range of mental health service improvement initiatives, including an emotional wellbeing and mental health toolkit for schools.

An evaluation by the Tavistock Institute identified positive changes in the wellbeing and resilience of young people engaged in Right Here activities. Young people reported being better able to cope with challenges, increased confidence, better understanding of mental health issues, new skills and experience, and more constructive leisure activities. We have appointed the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) to undertake additional evaluation work until the end of the initiative.

At a national level, Right Here joined Comic Relief and Nominet Trust to launch a new funding stream, to support the development of digital tools to support young people’s mental health. A large-scale Innovation camp over two days at the Foundation’s offices brought together young people with developers and mental health professionals to develop ideas for digital technologies that can help young people with mental health issues. Seven partnerships will be implementing the best ideas by June 2014.

In February, Right Here held its first showcase event to demonstrate the work of the four projects and the new digital initiative. It was chaired by Gregor Henderson, Director of Wellbeing and Mental Health at Public Health England. Young people were prominent at the event, giving speeches, using social media and delivering workshops.

We will be publishing an evaluation of Right Here and pursuing a wide-ranging programme of dissemination as we seek to ensure that the most successful approaches developed through the initiative are taken up more widely.

For further details see

Open Grants scheme

The Social Justice Open Grants scheme aims to help integrate marginalised individuals and communities. We see integration as a two-way process in which society at large and specific communities adapt, understand and benefit.

We want to support younger people up to the age of 30 who are at a time of transition because of their circumstances (such as leaving care or prison or settling into a new community) or changes to the cultural environment in which they live (such as established communities in refugee dispersal areas).

The Open Grants scheme focuses on arts and learning activities that enable marginalised young people to have their voices heard and ensure their fuller participation in society.

If possible, the outcomes of funded activities should also build strong relationships within and between communities, and foster respect for, and understanding of, the differences between communities.

Grant awarded in 2012/13

1625 Independent People

£149,620 over three years

This is a new grant to transform the way a Bristol-based organisation, 1625 Independent People, works with young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Chief executive Dom Wood explains the issue: “Homeless young people and those leaving care and custody have often experienced trauma and conflict. This can lead them to display challenging behaviour, including excessive risk taking, substance misuse and antisocial or aggressive behaviour.
In turn, this can lead to eviction and a return to homelessness. It is often difficult to implement plans for homeless young people as they have generally not formed trusting, appropriate relationships which the rest of us often take for granted.”

Our grant will help the charity to expand its peer and community mentoring service, as well as providing one-to-one mental health support for young people. It is also planning to influence the practice of seven local partner organisations, including Barnardo’s, Brook and the Prince’s Trust.

He says that staff in youth services often have a range of expertise but are not aware of how complex trauma affects behaviour. To address this, 1625 Independent People has chosen a new, experimental approach by working within a Psychologically Informed Environment framework (PIE). This is a model of working with victims of trauma that encourages young people to take ownership and control of their emotions and behaviour.

The PIE approach was originally developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and has been used by various homelessness organisations. Working within a therapeutic framework, staff develop clear and consistent responses to young people who may be chaotic, distressed or lacking trust. Young people are encouraged to make informed choices about their behaviour, engage with support workers and take positive steps. It also supports staff to reduce the risk of burn-out.

The aims of the project include increasing the wellbeing and engagement of 60 young people, training 30 peer supporters and community mentors to improve their understanding of young people’s behaviour and supporting 60 members of staff to feel more confident in supporting young people. Other outcomes will also be measured, such as maintaining tenancies, attendance and engagement, educational achievements and decreases in arrests.

“This project will help take PIE, peer and community support to another level in supporting young people to make changes to their lives,” says Dom. “We are all very excited by the project and the learning it will bring.”

Bounce Back

£110,000 over three years

The Bounce Back Foundation reduces re-offending from the national average of 65 per cent to 10 per cent. It does this by engaging with offenders before they are released from prison and training them to become painters and decorators. On release, the ex-offenders gain qualifications and obtain work as self-employed decorators. They work for Bounce Back, which operates as a social enterprise, gaining contracts for domestic and commercial decorating, or for construction companies, or set up their own businesses.

Our grant has provided essential funding over the next two years to enable Bounce Back to employ the staff it needs to develop its project. “The money will enable us to work
in more prisons, engage with more people and broaden our training programme to encompass NVQ Levels 1 and 2,” says chief executive, Francesca Findlater. “PHF is also working with us to enhance the evaluation of our new programme, so that we can help shape policy and practice in this area.”

“Until I met Bounce Back, I had no confidence and no skills. They found me in prison and have supported me ever since – I owe them everything – and I even pay tax now!”
Frank, Bounce Back participant

Bounce Back now helps ex-offenders from Wandsworth, Brixton, Wormwood Scrubs and High Down prisons. It has also established a painting and decorating team of over 40 participants working in paid employment around London and the Home Counties. All the Bounce Back decorating teams are supervised.

Frank has been in and out of prison for the last 18 years. He also had a serious substance misuse problem and was homeless. He has now been on Bounce Back’s programme for a year and has trained to be a competent painter decorator. He is also developing his skills and confidence in other ways, writing an article for the Big Issue magazine and contributing to Bounce Back’s blog.

“I had no motivation or desire to do anything,” he says. “Until I met Bounce Back, I had no confidence and no skills. They found me in prison and have supported me ever since – I owe them everything – and I even pay tax now!”

The project has helped him to stabilise his life to such an extent that he has recently been welcomed back into his family for the first time in ten years.

“This clearly shows that our work is not just having impact on the ex-offenders we support, but also on their families and the wider community,” adds Francesca. “We hope that the PHF grant will help to ensure that the key successes
of our programme can be captured and shared on a much wider level.”

Inspiring Scotland

£750,000 over three years

John’s life has been turned around. He left school at 16 and completed a cookery qualification but was struggling to find employment. He had poor communication skills, mental health issues and a difficult family situation. Calman Trust, one of 22 organisations funded by venture philanthropist Inspiring Scotland’s 14:19 Fund, supported John through these issues and helped him to complete an 18-month modern apprenticeship. He now works as a chef in the Highlands.

“Calman Trust is the reason I’ve learnt such impressive kitchen skills,” says John. “I’m really confident as I’ve learnt from the best. I want a place of my own one day.”

In Scotland, there are approximately 30,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 19 who have not been able to make a successful transition between school and education, training or work. Inspiring Scotland aims to significantly reduce this number. It currently invests, through the 14:19 fund, in ventures which work with disadvantaged young people. Chief executive Andrew Muirhead says: “Key to our model is the collaboration between ventures to ensure that each young person is supported in all of their needs.”

In the first four years of this ten-year fund, the ventures have managed to help nearly 9,000 young people into work, education or training. This is an average success rate
of 70 per cent, compared with the Scottish Government’s Get Ready for Work national training programme, which has a success rate of 39 per cent.

Making this grant gives us an opportunity to learn from this emergent form of philanthropy, while supporting Inspiring Scotland with knowledge and experience of non-monetary assistance to grantees. The 14:19 Fund itself has three dedicated performance advisors for the 22 ventures. They set annual operating plans and quarterly targets, conduct performance reviews and act as coaches.

Inspiring Scotland has a pool of over 150 private sector professionals with experience in business development, finance and the voluntary sector who offer pro bono support to ventures. This helps the organisations to become more robust and sustainable.

Sandy Mohamet, project manager of Recyke-a-bike, a social enterprise in Stirling, says: “Inspiring Scotland doesn’t leave us on our own to get on with it but provides support along the way.” Over four years, the 14:19 Fund has helped Recyke-a-bike to expand into schools, purchase a workshop and support over 70 young people into positive destinations.

Pro bono supporter, Simon Montador, says: “I instinctively liked the model; a commercial and outcome-based approach which is tackling some really tough and important issues”.


£150,000 over 42 months

WomenCentre is one of the largest providers of women’s centres in the UK, with bases in Halifax, Huddersfield and Dewsbury. It has a proven track record of success in collaborative working with local partners.

A PHF grant has allowed WomenCentre to trial a new approach to address the needs of vulnerable girls and young women. Many have experienced neglect, poverty and abuse and can fall through gaps in service provision, particularly after leaving care. WomenCentre’s new approach, called The Way Forward, involves setting up multi-agency meetings that bring together all the relevant agencies to work directly with each young person. The project is supported and guided by a multi- agency steering group. The grant pays for an engagement worker to identify and support the women and make sure they feel confident enough to express their needs and negotiate outcomes with other key agencies. A key worker, selected by the service user from one of the agencies, then becomes their main contact. Sometimes girls and women find the support they need at the engagement stage.

“I am writing this to say thank you for all of your support since attending WomenCentre. It has helped me overcome some difficult obstacles. I went for an interview at supported housing today and I found the strength and courage to explain my situation without feeling embarrassed, small or ashamed.”
WomenCentre service user

Another aim of the project is to gather evidence of the level of need in the area and demonstrate that this is a cost-effective approach that could be rolled out across the UK. WomenCentre will deliver evidence-based training to disseminate learning from the project. By addressing needs at an early stage, the project hopes to prevent an escalation of issues, such as substance abuse, early parenting, imprisonment or unemployment, which can also increase demand on services.

It is hoped the pilot will make a significant difference to the expected life trajectory of 300 women – and 100 children. “Investment in the overall wellbeing and quality of these young women’s lives could have a strong, positive impact on outcomes for their children,” says Clare Jones, chief executive of WomenCentre.

One woman who was helped recently wrote: “I am writing this to say thank you for all of your support since attending WomenCentre. It has helped me overcome some difficult obstacles. I went for an interview at supported housing today and I found the strength and courage to explain my situation without feeling embarrassed, small or ashamed.”

Ongoing grant


£138,792 over 30 months

Brook, the sexual health advisory service, took on the challenge of developing youth participation and leadership, using a PHF grant, in the middle of merging its 17 separate charities into one.

“It was quite a challenge to involve young people in such a major restructure,” says participation lead, Naomi Sheppard. The most immediate task was recruiting new staff. Young people had been involved previously in recruitment but Brook had received variable feedback, so they carried out an evaluation and then developed new training.

The charity delivered the training to ensure they had a meaningful experience of participation in recruitment. “We had more positive feedback but there were still some gaps which were highlighted by young people in a presentation to the board of trustees,” says Naomi. As a result, the recruitment policy was rewritten, highlighting the importance of young people’s involvement.

In January, Brook set up its first national young people’s participatory advisory group. It consisted of 20 young people who had already been involved in social action projects. Brook presented them with the outcomes agreed for the PHF grant and set about planning how to achieve them.

One decision from this exercise was to establish local youth participation groups which would feed into the national group. As a result, young people have been able to feed into the National Curriculum Review and respond to other national policy initiatives, such as Health Watch, part of the new NHS structure.

Feedback from the young participants has been positive. “All of my views and opinions were listened to very well,” says Jody, 23. “We made decisions together and they made me feel welcome, as an equal part of the team.”

“I know that young people do make a difference and our opinion matters,” adds James, aged 19.

Other young people have developed social action projects. Blake, a young man with learning difficulties and a disability, has produced three videos to make Brook’s information more accessible. One shows people who only have the use of one arm how to use a condom. Another gives advice
on dealing with bullying. A local participatory group in the Highlands has created podcasts about sexual health. Another, in the Wirral, has developed a homophobia awareness campaign for schools.

“Young people are excited about being involved in higher- level decision making,” says Naomi. With two positions already ring-fenced for young people on its board of trustees, Brook is encouraging more young people to join the board.


  • 1 ‘Leave to Remain’ is expected to be released later in 2013
  • 2  We included a case study on the Scottish Refugee Council’s work in last year’s Yearbook. It can be read on our website