Many of the young people in these areas suffer from low self-esteem and low expectations, leading to a lack of confidence, underdeveloped social skills and, in particular, educational under-achievement. All too often, this disadvantaged start in life leads them to develop problems later, such as antisocial behaviour, crime, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy.
Feedback from participants in mentoring workshops funded by OCF has been positive and moving. One girl, who was at risk from making poor choices involving drugs, commented: “This group has given me something constructive to do rather than spending my time with people who do not have a good influence on me. I count this group as my extended family and our youth worker is really trustworthy. It has moulded me into a more confident person and always reminds me not to believe that I’m rubbish.”
Another girl, who has lost close family to drug addiction, simply wrote, “I’m really very happy and I’ve come out of my shell. I now feel appreciated. Thank you for an amazing time every week.”
Thrive recently merged with Leys Youth Programme (LYP). OCF has been able to support LYP and Thrive consistently since 2003, thanks to the variety of funding sources we manage. In particular, the group has been awarded significant funding from both the Local Network Fund, a programme run by community foundations in the early 2000s to distribute cash from the Department of Education and Skills, and from our Diamond Grants fund during the Jubilee year – resulting in total funding nearing £50,000 over 13 years.
We have seen an increase in collaboration amongst charities working in this area in recent years. The merger between LYP and Thrive is an example of like-minded community leaders pooling their efforts and sharing their expertise to have a greater impact. Such initiatives focus on long-term outcomes as well as greater efficiency. Because this approach works, OCF is now particularly keen to fund groups that can demonstrate their commitment to collaboration.