funderstorm poster - power in your hands, money in your projects

Funderstorm posters went up on bus stops all over Islington

The People Speak worked with Listen Up! at Islington Council to create this visionary programme – the biggest youth participatory budgeting scheme in the world as of 2010.

Funderstorm Team Training Programme

The programme started by training a team of 20 young people in running participatory discussion and voting events.

Listening Campaign

The Funderstorm Team talked directly to over 3500 young people in Islington (about 10%) through a series of young-person run public events at community centres, school assemblies, and public Talkaoke sessions, as well as vox-pop interviews and surveys.

Finally, young people facilitated an ‘agenda setting’ event at Islington Town Hall where all the issues raised so far were prioritised in discussion with young people, councillors and youth workers.

“I was impressed by the quality of discussion and ideas, not to mention the passion and enthusiasm shown by the young people at the launch event.”

Cllr Paula Belford

“Events like this give you a chance to see what other young people are interested in. Young people need to get interested in organising projects now, so they can learn how to be independent and not leave it all to the adults.”

Johanna, 14, Mt. Carmel School

Young people vote on their priorities at the Funderstorm agenda-setting event

Young people vote on their priorities at the Funderstorm agenda-setting event

The Funderstorm Voting Website

The Funderstorm Website was then launched, inviting young people to submit their proposals directly and transparrently, and vote on their favourites. Each project on the website was eligible to gain up to £5000 of funding. In the first two months the website attracted 59 proposals, and over 500 votes and comments, which was already a huge increase in participation and decision-making.

The Funderstorm Website

The Funderstorm Website – transparent voting.

Funderstorm Live Voting Events

More ambitious (over £5000) proposals went through to one of three live voting rounds, where young people and other stake-holders were invited to attend an event where proposals could be discussed, explored, and voted on in more detail.

  • The voting process took into account both the priorities of young people and council-provided indices of deprivation.
  • ‘Popular’ projects and projects that addressed a specific group (eg. disabled young people) would be voted on in parallel streams.
  • A panel of young people and experts from Islington Council were nominated to give live feedback on the process.

Premature Conclusion:

Unfortunately, due to funding cuts and changes in management after the 2010 UK general elections, the Funderstorm process was prematurely halted just before the first live voting event, and then shelved before any of the larger projects could be funded.


  • £50,000 of the overall £400,000 was distributed to projects voted through online.
  • Over 4000 young people were involved in a democratic discussion and participatory budgeting process.
  • A brilliant team of young people were trained, and then facilitated some fantastic discussions.

However, given the premature conclusion of the project, the overall lessons that the young people involved learned about politics and democracy were not overwhelmingly positive.

What we learned:

  • That it’s easy, fun and hugely rewarding to involve young people in direct democratic decision making. They are enthusiastic, full of ideas, and they are always experts at understanding the issues surrounding them and evaluating ideas about how to improve their environments.
  • How to train people to involve their peers in discussions and decision-making, and developed a training programme that we are still using and refining to train young Talkaoke hosts.
  • To make sure that funding for participatory processes is guaranteed and secure, and that there is full commitment from partners to the whole process up to senior management level before the project starts.

We are very keen to share ideas and experiences with anyone attempting something similar.

<a href=””><img class=”size-medium wp-image-2173 ” title=”Young people vote on their priorities at the Funderstorm agenda-setting event” src=”×201.jpg” alt=”Young people vote on their priorities at the Funderstorm agenda-setting event” width=”300″ height=”201″ /></a> Young people vote on their priorities at the Funderstorm agenda-setting event

One Response to “Funderstorm”

  1. […] Who Wants to Be…? has not only entertained theatre audiences, it has also been used as a public decision-making tool to decide how to invest in a much-loved local park and as a large-scale experiment in participatory budgeting for young people in London. […]

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