Bristol-based young peoples’ charity, 1625 Independent People (1625ip), is celebrating after receiving £901,194 from the Big Lottery Fund to continue their work with young people in the South West. Olympic gymnast, Claudia Fragapane, surprised the Future 4 Me team by visiting them in Bristol to celebrate the news.
The Future 4 Me project supports young people with their transition from leaving care or custody to leading independent positive lives. Running since 2012, the project has benefitted over 350 young people and won the coveted National Lottery Award for ‘Best Charity Project in the UK’ in 2015 after receiving over 7,300 votes from their staff and partners across the South West. This award will allow Future 4 Me to continue with its innovative and effective approach to working with care leavers and young people leaving custody.
Claudia, who won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2014, is a four-time commonwealth gold medalist and Strictly Come Dancing semi-finalist, met with the Future 4 Me team at Merchant Sports Academy in Bristol and was delighted to hear about the work the project are undertaking in the West of England. “It was brilliant to hear first-hand some of the success stories from the Future 4 Me project as a result of the great work they are doing for young people in my hometown. It is so important to help young people who may have had a difficult start and to give them opportunities through initiatives like Future 4 Me, to really support and enable young people to adapt to making positive changes in their lives to secure a brighter future.”
The project provides specialist support to young people aged 16 to 25 years old focusing on key areas of support including building positive and trusting relationships, access to good quality accomodation, education, training, employment, and improving wellbeing.
Myles Furr, Operations Director at 1625ip, said: “Future 4 Me focuses on engaging vulnerable young people in trusting and consistent relationships and uses these as the primary tool for change, so young people can engage positively in their communities and build and sustain healthy relationships outside of the project. Working with our partners, we aim to help young people recognise and build on their own strengths and skills to overcome difficulties, adapt to change positively and be confident in their abilities.”
With the recent findings of the Government’s Taylor Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales, the importance of helping young people through these times has never been more highlighted. This significant funding will mean Future 4 Me can continue to employ a multi-displinary team who will be supporting young people throughout the South West region. They will co-develop a national toolkit of best practice to enable organisations and partnerships to work together to engage with vulnerable young people positively in their communities.
A key focus for the service is to put the young people in the lead by involving them in the design, delivery and evaluation of Future 4 Me; they can participate in this at a level they feel comfortable with. As well as practical help and support from staff, care leaver apprentices and volunteer mentors, the project enables young people to access a chosen range of fun and engaging activities based on their interests.
One of the young people who has benefitted from the support of 1625ip is Elloise who has engaged with them since she was 16. Having found herself without a home, Elloise moved into accommodation with 1625ip and started to engage with the Future 4 Me project. Although initially resistant to support, Elloise began to build strong relationships with Future 4 Me.
Making time, building trust and developing strong healthy relationships with her workers became the foundation for Elloise’s success. Future 4 Me supported Elloise to chase her goals of becoming a qualified painter and decorator and after extensive interview preparation with 1625ip she went on to be offered an apprenticeship by Bristol City Council, which she has excelled in. With a talent for music, writing and rapping, Elloise also found the confidence to take her music to the live stage and performed at the Care Leavers Awards at Bristol’s iconic Colston Hall in front of 200 people, where she also received an award in recognition for her progress in Education and Training.
Future 4 Me was a key part in the support Elloise received, offering her a consistent and positive relationship and supporting her to challenge herself; she is now living independently and managing her own accommodation. Elloise is a real testament to how much young people can achieve when Bristol comes together to offer the opportunities and support that young people deserve and need.
Dom Wood, Chief Executive of 1625ip, said: “1625ip was founded in Bristol in 1983 and we exist quite simply because we believe in and encourage vulnerable young people to maximise their own capabilities and strengths, securing them a brighter future. This fantastic funding from the Big Lottery Fund will enable nearly 400 young people to directly benefit from specialist Future 4 Me support services, so that they can literally reboot their lives.
“The toolkit we will develop with some of the very best public, private and voluntary sector organisations will help to pave the way for delivering best practice in supporting care or custody leavers aged 16 to 25 years old throughout the country. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in the project and we can’t wait to start working with more young people and partners to ensure the continued success of Future 4 Me and ultimately the difference it will make to the lives of young people in our communities.”
For further information about Future 4 Me, please visit www.1625ip.co.uk or call 1625ip on 0117 3178800.