The Agency

Young people leading change in their communities.

Welcome to The Agency Manchester, run by Contact since 2013. Every year we run programmes aimed at empowering young people to become creative leaders and change-makers in their communities.

The Agency is a creative entrepreneurship programme enabling young people aged 15 to 25 from some of the most underserved areas in the UK to generate social change projects based on the needs they identify in their own communities.


We provide young people (or Agents) with the professional training, support and advice they need to generate new innovative ideas.

Agents pitch their ideas to an expert panel that decides which projects will be receiving seed funding of £2,000 and additional support, helping their ideas grow and reach bigger audiences.

Over the past 5 years over 266 young people have taken part in The Agency with projects receiving £178,547 in funding.

A man stands in a room surrounded by young Agents and excitedly pointing

2022 Victor Oderinde – OVO Gallery

A group of young people huddle on the floor, drawing on a shared sheet of paper

2022 Victor Oderinde – OVO Gallery

‘The Agency has given me the chance to be in a positive environment, it has helped me to have hope, and to see that there is another page to life, another perspective.’

Farhad, The Agency


The Agency was originally developed by the Brazilian theatremaker and journalist Marcus Faustini in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where the project has become a major force for change – Agencia de Redes para Juventude.

The Agency began in the UK in the Moston and Harpurhey areas of North Manchester, and the Clapham Junction and Battersea areas of London (in collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre and People’s Palace Projects). In 2017, The Agency was awarded £883,771 by the Big Lottery Fund to grow the project nationally to communities in Belfast and Cardiff in collaboration with FabLab Belfast and The National Theatre of Wales.

Interested in establishing The Agency in your local community? Talk to The Agency today at this link here.

Credits and Partners

The Agency is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation.

The UK pilot was funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


In 2019, Agency participants from Manchester and London presented to politicians and policy-makers at the Houses of Parliament, speaking about their projects and the impact of the programme on their communities. The project was also the focus of a major Guardian article: Knives, gangs and kids: how to break the cycle.


Optimise by Bakhtyar

Optimise is a fitness program with sessions tailored for young people aged between 16 - 18 that don't engage in traditional PE. These sessions aim to be a stepping stone for inactive kids providing a gateway to a healthier lifestyle.

Braids with Elo by Eloise

Eloise has created Braids with Elo, a workshop providing free braiding classes to young girls aged 14-18 for them to embrace their afro hair and inspire young girls to be confident in their appearance whilst offering a much more affordable alternative for doing their hair.

Skool of Barbering by Zeriah

Zeriah is leading a project called Skool of Barbering which is giving young people aged 15- 25 the chance to learn about the skills and techniques of barbering. Not only how to cut hair, but how to network, connect with new people and how to create a connection with their clientele.