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Working with young people? Three tips for increasing your application chances

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

As a Funding Manager at The Robertson Trust, I often see first-hand some of the great work being carried out across Scotland to help support at risk young people to make positive choices.

This can range from projects which specifically aim to divert vulnerable people away from the criminal justice system to creative activities that help young people learn and make informed choices about areas such as sexual health, drugs or alcohol.

If a project is carrying out this kind of work, then it may fit in the second theme of our Realising Potential (RP) funding strand and could be eligible for Robertson Trust funding.

Of the three themes in RP, our analysis has highlighted that it is this second theme in which we are seeing the fewest applications – just £684,500 was awarded to 22 projectsin 2016/17, compared to £2,377,000 (89 awards) in RP1 and £1,097,250 (31 awards) in RP3. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips for applying successfully in RP2 and assessing your own potential eligibility.

Understand that the theme isn’t simply about youth work

This is key. Many organisations may be put off applying by erroneously assuming all roads must point to youth work. In reality, there are a plethora of different mediums, approaches and programmes of support available to young people that may be eligible under this theme. This includes educational programmes, vocational opportunities and peer mentoring – as long as your target is steering young people away from risky behaviour then there’s every chance your work would fit.

Think about the opportunities you provide

We are not only interested in work which engages distinct groups of young people, but also works which provides the opportunity to engage with such groups. Examples of this may include ‘open access’ youth work available to all young people, or work that is carried out in an area of significant deprivation, thus providing a form of ‘early intervention’ that may prevent young people from making destructive life choices.

Ensure your outcomes and activities are achievable and proportionate

Funders are interested in realistic outcomes. Rather than telling us that you expect your project to support those engaged in the youth justice system into full-time, permanent employment within 12 months, think about the signs of progress your work can realistically contribute to which may lay the foundations for this in the coming years. We recently worked with one organisation which  supports young people referred from criminal justice teams to improve attendance at school and reduce anti-social behaviour. These are fantastic outcomes, and the kind that may put people on the path to full-time, sustained employment over time.


One organisation that was recently successful in applying for funding in this theme was Pilton Youth and Children’s Project. You can find out more about their work in our recent funding story, including what it was we liked about their project and what advice they’d give to others carrying out similar work.

And remember, The Robertson Trust prides itself on being an open and accessible funder. If you simply want to discuss a potential application, please do not hesitate to drop us an email or call our funding team on 0141 353 7300.

View our Giving Strategy for more information on our funding strands and themes.

Find out more about our Realising Potential funding strand.