Over the last year, we have been supporting the Keeping Children and Young People Safe Steering Group in Manchester to embed collective impact principles in their collaboration. This has been enabled by support from BBC Children in Need, and held by Young Manchester.

So far, the focus of the group is how to work as a collaborative and what it means to work together differently. The group has asked of itself:

The Steering Group met to discuss their roles, relationships with each other and the wider system, and how genuinely listening to young people can enable us to address the challenges they face.

The Steering Group brings together a mix of voluntary and statutory sector organisations who are supporting young people’s safety in the city. In the past, the Steering Group has worked together, shared expertise, and coordinated their support for young people.

We were brought in to help the group embed a collective impact approach to young people’s safety in the city. Our interim report sets out learning from the Steering Group.

Challenging and enabling the collective to think and work differently

To take their collective work a step further, we organised bi-monthly learning sessions to explore:

  •  the system around young people’s safety in Manchester;
  • the role of power dynamics in shaping definitions of safety; and
  • the role of place in collective work.

We created a space where the different expertise, experience and approaches of the group were valued equally, and where no one perspective was valued over another.

We also wanted to create an opportunity for senior leaders to have space to think more expansively, beyond the pressures of their day-to-day roles, about how the collective could work together to support young people’s safety in Manchester.

The early threads of learning are visualised below.

Threads of learning

After our first cycle of sessions, we came up with several ideas for moving forward collaboratively. The challenges of broader systemic issues in Manchester, meant getting started proved difficult. Nevertheless, concrete ideas for action emerged and the group is further along than it was before, despite the significant challenges posed by their operating context.

Supported by Social Finance, the group created a Shared Goals Framework bringing together an enormous amount of feedback from young people about how they wanted provision to function, how they wanted to feel, and what the support offered to them should look to achieve.

Shared goals framework

All the organisations involved in the Steering Group want to adopt and use this framework.

Continued coordination, funding and commitment across the city to build on their collaborative actions, will enable them to embed a collective impact approach.

What’s next?

It’s early days. The Steering Group are not finished. They know there is no easy, neat answer to the systemic challenge of youth safety.

They want to share the interim learning report to acknowledge their learning, to highlight where they are going, and encourage others to join them. If you’d like to learn more about the work in Manchester, please get in touch with Young Manchester’s Imogen Gregg-Auriac (CO-CEO with Samuel Remi-Akinwale).

We are working on several projects relating to youth safety and what it means to be a young person at risk of violence. If you’d like to know about that or the services our social impact consultancy offers, please get in touch.

Anna Waldie

Our services