An exciting new foresight unit is born

I spent a sunny morning today at a meeting of a ‘launch and review group’ for a Youth Foresight Unit being set up by Catch22. The meeting brought together Catch22 staff with some futurists, some policy stakeholders and the funder of the Unit, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (also a previous funder of our work).

One of the last things I did before going on maternity leave a year ago was talk to Rosie Chadwick, Catch22’s Director of National Programmes, about her dream for a Youth Foresight Unit. It was great to find on my third day back from maternity leave that they’ve received funding and are now busy planning the first phase.

I find it particularly inspiring that it will be the young people Catch22 works with who will be doing the futures work. Catch22 are excited because it will be a new way for their users to influence the future direction of the charity. The funders were excited because they are keen to see sector organisations really put users/beneficiaries at the heart of their work. They can also see chances for the Unit to be both innovative and generate learning for others. The futurists got excited because because of experience and research showing that ‘experts’ can be the worst people to actually produce good futures work. They were also keen on the opportunities given to the Unit participants to use social media (known as Futures 2.0 within the futures community). And the policy makers got excited because they too want young people to be able to better influence those making decisions about their lives.

But it is not without its challenges. The Unit will produce outputs around what life will be like for young people in perhaps 20 years time (the timeframe is yet to be fixed). It will also develop the foresight and strategic skills and capabilities of young people with tough lives who are facing or have faced tough issues.

Learning about foresight methods takes time.

Doing foresight work takes time.

And phase one of the project is quite small. So matching ambitions with resources will be a challenge for the Catch22 team, but one that I’m sure they’re up to! Everyone at today’s meeting wishes them a lot of success and will be watching their progress!

During the meeting I and others shared their learning from foresight initiatives, which I’ve written about separately here. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Unit, contact Christine Thompson at Catch22.

Last updated at 12:36 Thu 21/Oct/10.
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