In the year that it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the Foyer Federation has moved into CAN Mezzanine, Borough to receive support from the CAN³ programme. We sat down with its Chief Executive, Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa and Director of Operations, Jenny Heys to find out more.
Set up in 1992, Foyer Federation is a charity that supports a network of 83 Foyers across the UK. Foyers provide a nurturing environment for young people aged 16-25 to live in combined with personal development training. The ‘Foyer’ was inspired by a French model of housing for young people with a focus on learning.
Director of Operations Jenny Heys said, “The role of the Foyer Federation is to promote and safeguard the concept of the Foyer and provide an alternative to a homeless hostel.”
“A Foyer is more of a model than a building. It is more about the methodology and the practice; it’s the way in which staff work with young people and how they engage with young people living there.”
The Foyer Federation’s four key strategic pillars aim to ‘reclaim’ the original Foyer ethos and focus on an ‘Advantaged Thinking’ approach, which involves harnessing our strengths, skills and talent for personal and social good.
One of the pillars places an emphasis on a ‘something for something deal’, whereby the young residents engage in Foyer community life in exchange for a personalised programme tailored to their specific circumstances.
Chief Executive Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa said, “It’s been great to see that young people want to be a part of the infrastructure rather than just a beneficiary. It’s a real highlight to see how they can take ownership of an idea and drive it forward; for example, we are exploring how we can develop a Youth Council to give a voice to young people across our network.”
So why CAN³?
Tokunbo said, “In a similar vein to our members who are going through significant change in the sector, we felt that we were at a stage where we needed to evolve as a charity. This is our 25th year so we’ve gone through a number of cycles of change and development and we felt that it was important to ensure that the offer that we were providing our members was fit for purpose and was something that really added value to the journey that they were on at the moment.
“We noticed that CAN³ was about developing a robust, sustainable model. It was about growth and impact which are key qualities that fit into our refreshed offer, not just for ourselves as a charity but we can relay that impact to our 83 members.”
The Foyer Federation team at CAN Mezzanine, Borough
Jenny commented, “On a practical level, we had been in our offices in Farringdon for 15 years and we were under-occupying the space so it made business sense to be in a shared space. We are now in the company of some great organisations such as Change Please, Irene Taylor Trust, upReach and others. We hope to get to know organisations better through CAN’s networking events and I think we’ll be having conversations with several!”
“When people are having meetings in the break-out areas it does feel buzzy and that is really warm to come into.”
Tokunbo added, “I like the idea of being in an environment where people are exploring similar journeys and challenges.”