Kinship Discovery — Guiding Principles

Cassie Robinson.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
5 min readOct 30, 2023


I am working with Paul Hamlyn Foundation on Kinship Discovery, a programme of exploration, research, thinking and insight-generation to inform a major new funding initiative focused on young people and hope for the future. As we embark on this Discovery phase we’ve developed a set of principles through which we plan to undertake the work. As one of them is transparency, we’re sharing them in this blog post with descriptions of how you’ll see them enacted.


It’s really important to us that at the end of the Discovery phase we feel like the process has had integrity — that we did all that we intended in terms of all the other principles in the list. If we work in the open there will be a trail of what we did, with whom. It will mean people will see who and what informed decisions and who was involved in those decisions. You will see us regularly sharing updates, making our research and insights available and documenting our activities.

Centering the possibilities and opportunities, not the money

Whilst the Discovery phase will result in some choices being made about where to spend a significant amount of money, we think it’s important to stay focused on why we are doing this at this moment in time. Focusing on the money can distort things and narrow the type of conversations we have. Both now and ahead of us there are enormous challenges, with a lot at stake, but as a result people are seeking experimentation, creativity and courage. This means you’ll see us focus on what else is possible, rather than what’s missing or broken and looking for ideas that are commensurate with the scale of the challenges we face, and that hold a vision that goes beyond the immediate. We’ll frame our questions around the opportunities that become visible rather than focusing on the money available.

Exploration, experimentation and stretch

Linked to the above principle, we will be looking for people and initiatives that have a different way of doing things — ideas, patterns and approaches that are distinct or that feel unfamiliar. Being accountable to stretch means that we will entertain big questions. Being accountable to exploration means that we will move with openness and curiosity rather than certainty. Being accountable to experimentation means that we will try things out, not just do research or rely on theory. Over the course of the Discovery phase we will be inviting all kinds of people to come and share their experience, provocations, insights and perspectives. This is one of the ways we will keep stretching our sense of what is possible and what we need to consider. Finding new ways to combine different kinds of data and insight, or use new methods and practices in our explorations, will be one of the ways we will get creative and experimental.

Infrastructure mindset —

Generative not extractive and building on PHF’s approach to learning to date, we want to see if we can lay some useful foundations, leave a trail, connect dots, share from a landscape perspective — what we discover across multiple sites and sectors. Growing a sense of hope, making tangible a sense of what else could be feels important as we make a start on this.


The world is complex and requires us to be able to hold multiple stories and possibilities at once. The Discovery phase will see us engage with complexity — to open up and hold multiple lines of enquiry, bring in multiple perspectives, before we move towards narrowing things down. You will see this in the breadth of questions we explore and the range of places we look, in search of inspiration and provocation. You will also see how we practise fluidity in our position whilst we explore.

Valuing different kinds of knowledge, data and experience

We will endeavour to bring rigour and depth to understanding complexity from many different perspectives. This will require an appreciation for different kinds of experience — lived, learned and practice, different kinds of data — from the micro to the macro, the qual and the quant, to different kinds of knowledge — from foresight and trends to ancient and embodied ways of knowing. The difference and diversity of perspective will be a vital resource. You will see this in how we do our research and our explorations, what kinds of data we gather and then pay attention to, who we curate to come and inform the work and the decisions. In addition, the Discovery phase currently has a focus on young people’s futures (age 15–25) and that means we’re committed to bringing young people right into the heart of the process.

Commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion

We want to use this work to drive our bigger commitment to equity. You will see this enacted through who we work with and how we work — through what and who we pay attention to, listen to and show accountability to. The Discovery phase will have a particular focus on making sure we invite-in and listen to people who come from a range of backgrounds and identities, prioritising those voices we don’t normally hear from either because they have been marginalised in the past or they are new and emergent. We have a commitment to anti-racism and tackling all forms of discrimination and we will embed this into our way of working.

Build out from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s values, vision and mission

PHF’s values of collaboration and connection, openness, trust and thoughtfulness are reflected in the principles outlined and the Foundation’s vision of a just society in which everyone, especially young people can realise their full potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives is at the centre of our purpose.

As you will see, we’re embarking on this with a desire to do the best we can — knowing that throughout the course of this Discovery phase we will need to hold tensions, a range of possibilities and be honest about the trade-offs as decisions get made. We’re really just getting started — it’s been slower to get off the ground than we had anticipated — but we’re taking a lot of care. I hope we can look back on the process and show that it’s been done with integrity, that we have managed to stick to the principles shared above and we can see how that’s made a visible difference to where we get to.

If you would like to stay up-to-date on Kinship Discovery and more, you can sign up using this form, where you can also share any recommendations for people or organisations you think we should speak with.



Cassie Robinson.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Working with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, P4NE, Arising Quo & Stewarding Loss -