Over 3,000 young people to benefit from 2019 National Express Foundation funding.

The charity, which aims to support disadvantaged young people, has so far committed over £300,000 in 2019 to support community groups and educational institutions, with another round of funding awards to come later in the year.

The Foundation has announced that 17 community groups and two educational institutions have been successful in securing funding from the first round of awards. Combined with multiyear projects funded in previous years, over 3,000 young people are set to benefit from National Express Foundation awards in the first half of 2019 alone.

The charity’s community group grants are awarded to grass-roots community groups or charities that need financial support with the delivery of positive, developmental activities for youth in the community. The Foundation’s aim is to help others to engage young people and steer them away from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour and crime, whilst also offering opportunities to build news skills which will ultimately promote greater employability.

Educational grants are awarded to colleges and universities that propose bespoke bursary programmes to support disadvantaged young students with costs during their studies.

Longford Short Football, based in Coventry, will use a £10,000 grant to fund their ‘Grab a Football, Not a Knife’ campaign over two years. The voluntary group uses unique, small portable football ‘stadiums’ to take the game to as many areas as possible. The group deliver targeted activities using sport to foster cultural cohesion and reductions in anti-social behaviour.

Jim Sweeney, Project Coordinator for Longford Short Football said:

"As a voluntary group, coaching for the past 30 years within Coventry, our ‘Short Football’ project is completely overwhelmed to have been awarded this amazing National Express Foundation Grant of £10,000. This generous grant is twice the amount we have ever been awarded and will enable us to take our ‘Grab a Football, Not a Knife’ campaign not just across the West Midlands, but UK wide for the next two years. This is a cause close to our hearts after we suffered the tragic loss of two former players through knife crime in 2018. We hope that by raising awareness of the danger of carrying a knife we can positively impact the lives of many young people.”

Halesowen College, based in the Black Country, will use an award of £20,000 over two years to support students completing level one and two programmes participate in activities that will increase their awareness of and progression to higher education. The wider Dudley area, from which the college draw a large percentage of their student numbers, has one of the lowest progression rates to higher education in the country.

John Murray, Director of Organisational Development said:

“This funding is specifically geared to address sections of our student body that current funding streams miss. It will give level one and two students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of career opportunities and HE pathways. We are committed to giving all our students the best possible chance for their future and trust that they will ultimately boost the prosperity of the Black Country. National Express share that vision and we are grateful for their support”.

Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid will use a grant of £10,000 to fund the ‘You First’ programme. The programme aims to build resilience, wellbeing and life chances of young women aged 16-24, affected by or at risk from domestic and sexual violence.

Sally Dennis, Operations Manager, said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded a grant from the Foundation to support our work with young women in our refuge and the community. Many of the young women have low self-esteem as a result of experiences of abuse, have been told they were worthless, and not received the help they needed.  With this funding, they will take part in a range of activities and sessions designed to help them find a sense of self, purpose and position by exploring what matters to them and what they want for their future.”

Anthony Vigor, Chairman of the National Express Foundation, said:

“We are proud of the support we’ve been able to provide for young people in the communities that we serve. The £500,000 that the National Express Foundation have committed this year means we are able to support the largest group of young people since our launch.

“Our grants help groups deliver fantastic developmental activities for young people and also those who might not otherwise have the means to continue with their studies in further and higher education. This additional funding means we can help even more local young people succeed in life.”

The 19 new grants made by the Foundation in 2019 are:

  • Halesowen College - £20,000 (over two years)
  • University of Birmingham - £30,000 (over three years)
  • Balsall Heath CATS, Birmingham - £10,000
  • Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid - £10,000
  • I.M.E. Studios CIC, Birmingham - £2,500
  • Smethwick Youth & Community Centre - £10,000
  • Sport 4 Life UK, Birmingham - £10,000
  • Sport Legacy Foundation, Birmingham - £10,000
  • The Stonehouse Gang, Birmingham - £5,000
  • ConnectEd Partnership, Wolverhampton - £10,000
  • Engage Trust UK, Wolverhampton - £2,500
  • Heaven’s Kitchen, Dudley - £20,000
  • Kids In Communication, Walsall - £20,000
  • Let Us Play, Wolverhampton - £5,000
  • Sandwell Community Hubs - £20,000 (over two years)
  • Longford Short Football, Coventry - £10,000
  • Voluntary Action Coventry - £10,000
  • Woodies Youth Centre, Medway - £10,000
  • Young Women’s Trust, Kent - £10,000

Published 20th June 2019