Guardian readers help Fairbridge charity and West Midlands’ youth

Guardian readers help Fairbridge charity and West Midlands’ youth

Disengaged young people in Birmingham and throughout the West Midlands are set to be given a boost in life thanks to opportunities through national charity Fairbridge, with Christmas 2010 fundraising efforts by readers of The Guardian.

Fairbridge works with young people under projects in Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and the Black Country to name just a few of the 15 centres the charity runs across the UK. Fairbridge has been chosen as one of the ten charities to be supported by the Guardian’s Christmas 2010 charity appeal. The appeal had already raised a massive £311,000 some hours before it closed, and more is expected to be added to the total before it’s distributed to the lucky charities.

Fairbridge particularly works with 13-25 year olds that other charities and community groups find hard to engage due to risk of exclusion, truanting, underachieving and behaviour that’s difficult to manage. In the West Midlands, Fairbridge also focuses on those over 16 who are not in full-time education, employment or training (so called “NEETs”, accounting for 15% of the West Midlands’ youth) as well as young people who want help to make the transition between local authority care and the independent adult world.

Access courses by Fairbridge (such as the one in the featured picture), have been described as producing amazing results, really changing the lives of Birmingham’s young people. One such person from the West Midlands who benefited enormously from Fairbridge’s amazing work was 18 year old Vicky. After leaving care she was drifting and getting into trouble at college. But four months with Fairbridge turned Vicky around;

“When I engaged with Fairbridge I completed my access course which involved me with a variety of activities including canoeing, rock-climbing, cooking sessions and mountain biking. These activities all involved team work, confidence and self-esteem building. With all the positive feedback and encouragement from staff and other young people it was a bit over-whelming and this is when I knew I was able to achieve anything I want… I have now gained loads of confidence within myself…”

With Fairbridge’s help, Vicky is now succeeding on a catering apprenticeship.

Despite the recession, the Guardian Christmas Charity Appeal this year managed to raise more than the £290,000 that it raised in 2009 (for Ugandan charity, Mvule Trust) which in itself was the largest sum raised by the Guardian since the Christmas 2004 appeal to help victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake & tsunami. As part of the fundraising efforts, the Guardian’s readers were given a special opportunity to ring phone banks manned by Guardian staff, including the editor, some senior reporters and bearded cartoonist, Steve Bell.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger summed up the vital work of charities like Fairbridge;

“What do our 10 charities provide? In short, they transform lives and life chances. On a practical level they provide programmes and activities that offer help, support, training, mentorship and advice to youngsters aged 13-24. They bring hope, broaden horizons, instil confidence and emotional resilience, and inspire.”

Leave a Reply