Barton and Blackbird Leys based charity Thrive develops young people to bring hope and lasting change to disadvantaged communities. Their annual Young Achievers Dinner and awards was a testament to the power of investing in young people.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley and Grants Manager Annette Ahern were delighted to attend the event at The Kings Centre on Saturday 14th October. The evening was a glittering occasion where the young people who Thrive works with took centre stage, and were empowered to feel confident and competent hosting an audience of several hundred guests.
Thrive’s youth workers live and work within Oxford’s estates of Barton and Blackbird Leys. Despite being on the outskirts of one of the most wealthy and prestigious cities in the UK, these estates are some of the most deprived in Europe. Whilst a quarter of Oxford’s children attend private school, another quarter are living in poverty. A boy born in the Barton estate can expect to live eight years less than if he was born on the other side of the ring road in Headington; whole communities in Oxford see one in three adults with no qualifications and up to 75% of young people leaving school without English and Maths GCSEs. Thrive’s work hits at the heart of many of the issues discussed in OCF’s Oxfordshire Uncovered report.
Thrive’s mentoring programmes, which have recently received funding from OCF, focus on the potential of young people living in these areas. Thrive’s teams become role models for young people who may not have known any other adults in employment, encouraging them to take leadership roles amongst their peers and learn to be responsible and engaged. The Young Achievers Dinner was an excellent example of this work in action; dinner was served to guests by the young people, with tables encouraged to ask questions of their dedicated server. Jayne and Annette were impressed by their server Ellie, who told them how much confidence she had gained from being part of Thrive – particularly in terms of speaking to new people and accepting challenges that are out of her comfort zone. There are some great photos of the event on Thrive’s Facebook page.
The evening culminated in awards being presented to young people who had made especially significant progress. These included Devon, an 18-year-old from the Blackbird Leys estate who started leading activities for other youngsters on the estate, and is now the first in his family to go to university; and Luke, a 14-year-old from Barton who has stopped fighting with people at school and is now a Muay Thai practitioner. The awards were sponsored by local businesses and presented by Richard Venables DL, who chairs OCF’s responsible business group Reciprocate.
Congratulations to all the winners!