The problem

Social immobility is arguably the most important and challenging issue facing British society today. ‘Where you start has a big influence on where you end up’ (SMC, 2017) and ‘it could take at least five generations, or 150 years, for the child of a poor family [in the UK] to reach the average national income’ (OECD, 2018).

Too many young people don’t believe in themselves and aren’t achieving their potential. On an individual level this is caused by the fact that many young people lack opportunities to be inspired; to develop their autonomy; to build supportive relationships; and to build life skills. Consequently, these young people often develop fixed mindsets and poor emotional wellbeing and many disengage from their communities and wider society.

The solution

The Key exists to inspire belief in young people. We want to create a world where all young people are inspired to believe in themselves and achieve their potential.

Our mission is to enable young people to believe in their ideas, and take responsibility for living them, by discovering what they’re capable of and generating the drive and determination to do something meaningful with it. Our ultimate impact goals is to inspire and support young people facing challenging circumstances to develop growth mindsets and tackle social immobility in their own unique way

“The Key breaks down barriers, binds communities and empowers young people to get involved and do things for themselves.”

Work in action

The Key provides young people with the tools and opportunities to put their ideas in to practice by facilitating young people’s participation in their tried and tested youth-led skills development Framework.

Informed by Self-Determination theory, The Key Framework is designed to inspire young people into action, enabling them to progress towards a growth mindset and positive emotional wellbeing as well as engage in their community and wider society.

The Key Framework is simple but effective. It sees young people come together in little teams and, with the support of their Key Facilitator (youth worker trained to deliver the framework), think, plan, budget, pitch (to panel), do and review their very own youth-led projects.

All they ask is for young people to engage their individuality, curiosity and creativity as they dream up their projects and work together to make it happen for real. Their projects may be ambitious or simple but must present group  members with a challenge and the opportunity to build 12 vital personal and social skills. This simple journey, based around a healthy balance of freedom and structure, provides the vital spark that young people need to ignite their passions and practically develop their skills for real world success.

The Big Changers

Hannah Underwood

Hannah Underwood has been running The Key since 2005, combining her business head and her passion for developing young people. She has a belief that all young people have the power to be great and this is a central tenet of The Key’s approach.

Hannah started off as science boffin, fascinated in how people learn, behave and unlock their potential and became passionate about using this knowledge to help young people develop themselves and their future life chances. She is now a self- confessed impact data geek with an unquenchable desire to improve as many young lives as is humanly possible with as little resource as is needed.

Hannah has been instrumental during her time at The Key. She’s played, and continues to play, a huge role in shaping and leading The Key, helping them to become the focussed, savvy and forward thinking organisation they are today.


Over the past five years, The Key has supported 13,678 young people to complete The Key Framework and think, plan, do and review 2,996 of their very own Key Projects.

As a result, young people have developed the 12 Key Skills and formed a growth mindset before making 8,054 ‘positive steps’ into employment, education, training or volunteering.

A further 16,821 members of the community benefitted from taking part in young people’s projects, demonstrating the positive ripple effect of The Key across the whole community.

The Key breaks down barriers, binds communities & empowers young people to get involved and do things for themselves