Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Why start a charity?

Life deals each and every one of us with a series of challenges though our lives that test our knowledge, determination, resilience and problem solving skills, so when we decide to take on additional challenges like setting up a charity to help others you have to ask WHY?
Why put yourself through the endless and frustrating task of navigating through a mountain of red tape. 
Why spend hours, days and weeks trying to get people to attend presentations.
Why completely exhaust yourself trying to make a small difference in the lives of others.

The last few months have been full of WHY’s and I am so grateful we stuck with it. Having successfully navigated through the early stages of setting up the Young People are our Future charity, the project team and I are starting to see the benefits of providing the services within the project.

In just a couple of months over 800 young people have experienced the proven Life Skills for Children course through community events and mentoring courses run in local schools.

The pilot of this course saw an additional 5,000 young people experience the course with some amazing results.

So, what is it? Life Skills for Children is an early intervention course designed to provide young people from 5 years + with some practical and realistic tools to increase their personal safety, communication skills, confidence, self- esteem and ability to assess and avoid a bullying incident.

Between the pilot and the YPAOF charity young people in North London, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes have benefitted from this simple to deliver course.

The pilot was so successful that interest from 19 countries was registered and the course is now being deployed through children’s centres in Vietnam, India, Iran, South Africa and Sweden.

The Young People are our Future project is built around the Life Skills course and is set up to educate, inspire and motivate young people to become the best they can be. 

The project team has been overwhelmed with support for the project with hundreds of parents supporting our ultimate goal of putting these simple life skills into the PSHE curriculum in schools. 
We all appreciate the importance of education and learning how to read and write, however having these skills but no social skills, confidence or good communication skills is like teaching somebody to drive and placing them in a car with no engine. – They will not go anywhere.

The secret to achieving anything is to have the right mind-set, to have the right skills to enhance that mind-set and the right support to continually develop that mind-set.
The Life Skills for Children course provides the foundation for this personal development journey.

A key objective of the charity is to provide a sustainable educational service to local young people and their families as this will increase the success of the life skills course and will enable the project to positively impact the lives of those around the young people themselves.

This is done in several ways including the development of the “Kids teach Kids” team, which is made up of young people who are trained to deliver the course material to other young people across the city. The charity is also providing parenting life skills sessions so that a set of consistent set of messages can be introduced to families.

Finally, we have established a train the trainer system, which is already producing local life skills coaches who have the skills to deploy the course to a wider target audience.

In just a few months the WHY’s are diminishing and an optimism about how many young people the charity can positively benefit is growing. As a community project it is largely reliant on the support of local groups to develop the right momentum. Local parish councils and clubs are working together within the project, clearly demonstrating that when local knowledge and expertise is shared everyone benefits.

Whilst moving in the right direction the charity has had to overcome and continues to embrace many hurdles. Schools that are so reluctant to get involved despite the charity offering them free staff training in the life skills course and free after school activities, clubs that are so unprofessional they fail to attend events to run a one hour workshop, parents who think the charity is a day care centre and try to use the events as a drop of centre and those whilst parents who clearly fall under the category “Bad Parent” and feel their children do not require any life skills despite a mountain of evidence demonstrating that their children require some form of intervention.

It seems whatever the cause, charities who have the singular mission to help others have to endure a constant struggle to overcome these kinds of hurdles, despite having a huge amount of support, ironically often from the same people who cause some of these hurdles.

Young People are our Future has created a solid foundation on which to grow and one thing is clear at this very early stage of the charities development, the Life Skills course has and continues to be very successful and the statistics supporting the course look impressive.

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