New report provides blueprint for youth-led projects looking to go it alone

Just for Kids Law and We Belong publish an independent evaluation of the process which led to the foundation of the first UK charity led entirely by and for young migrants.
5 Feb 2020

A new report published today presents an independent evaluation of the process which led to the foundation of the first UK charity led entirely by and for young migrants. We Belong was established in September 2019, having previously existed since 2014 as Let Us Learn, a project run as part of the children and young people’s charity Just for Kids Law.

Based on in-depth interviews with Just for Kids Law’s management team and trustees, as well as the young leaders and activists behind We Belong, the report, It’s Our Time: Learning from We Belong’s journey to becoming an independent charity, presents a comprehensive overview of the process behind We Belong’s transition from a project to a standalone charity, providing a vital learning resource for other youth-led projects looking to become independent organisations

The report highlights a set of key recommendations for projects and organisations planning on going through a similar process of creating an independent youth led organisation. These include making use of advice, support and mentoring opportunities, being prepared for bumps in the road, and above all being clear about the reason why independence is important.

Host organisations are advised to be clear throughout the process, support staff to develop the full range of skills required to run an autonomous organisation and be prepared to commit time and resources.

Funders are recommended to enable such transitions through building relationships with potential leaders, considering funding consultancy support, and working in partnership with other funders to share resources and expertise.

Enver Solomon, CEO of Just for Kids Law, said:

“The formation of the first UK-wide campaigning organisation run by and for young migrants is a landmark moment in the fight to create a fair, just and humane immigration system in this country. Becoming an independent organisation was always part of the plan for the Let Us Learn campaign, and we are proud that we were able to provide the support and encouragement necessary for these young activists to successfully become We Belong. We hope that this evaluation report will provide inspiration and important learning for other youth-led projects and help them transition to independence.”

Dami Makinde and Chrisann Jarrett, Co-CEOs of We Belong, said:

“We Belong was destined to be born from the ever-growing hostility of an injustice system that prevents young migrants from maximising their full potential in a country they call home. The report brilliantly tells the reality about the challenges, victories and support along the way, capturing a wholesome story. Becoming the first UK-wide campaigning organisation would not have been possible if not for the backing of Just for Kids Law, key funders and our cohort of young people.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Just for Kids Law is a UK charity that works with and for children and young people to hold those with power to account and fight for wider reform by providing legal representation and advice, direct advocacy and support, and campaigning to ensure children and young people in the UK have their legal rights and entitlements respected and promoted and their voices heard and valued.
  2. We Belong - Young Migrants Standing Up is the first UK-wide charity run entirely by and for young migrants, which aims to create a movement of ambitious and engaged young people, able to contribute fully to the country they call home.
  3. The new charity was founded by Co-CEOs Dami Makinde and Chrisann Jarrett, both young migrants who came to the UK as children, and who met as young activists involved in Just for Kids Law’s Let Us Learn campaign.
  4. The Let Us Learn campaign was established as a project of Just for Kids Law in 2014. It was initially established to campaign on young migrants’ access to student finance, before expanding to cover a wide range of issues affecting young migrants in the UK, with a particular focus on rising Home Office fees.
  5. The evaluation report “It’s Our Time: Learning from We Belong’s journey to becoming an independent charity” was produced by the NCVO Charities Evaluation Services. It can be downloaded here.