From education to employment

Youth charity’s cash boost means it can help more at-risk teens

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@ReachHigherUK’s leadership programme, which helps vulnerable young people in Croydon boost their career and life prospects will triple the size of its operation thanks to new funding.

The Youth charity’s scheme currently supports 20 teenagers at risk of being excluded from school or sucked into a spiral of criminal activity or gang involvement.

Now, the South Norwood-based organisation will be able to help an additional 40 young people a year, thanks to a £143,750 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

The five-year funding will support a series of workshops on topics such as relationship-building, self-esteem and financial literacy, alongside mentoring, work experience and volunteering opportunities.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee Dhruv Patel said:

“Reaching Higher is already doing fantastic work in helping young people who might otherwise take the wrong path in life to get back on track and to boost their chances of success in academic and professional life.

“This funding will make a huge difference in allowing the charity to significantly scale up its leadership programme and to offer genuinely life-changing opportunities to many more young people.”

Under the scheme, young people get to take part in mock interviews, work with businesses and professional organisations to organise their own events, and mix with young people from outside their usual circles.

Around half of those enrolled on the programme end up working for Reaching Higher in some capacity which, along with volunteering time at local charities, provides valuable experience for their CV.

Alecia Blackford, Reaching Higher youth work delivery manager, said:

“The leadership programme brings together young people who are at risk with other young people and adults from completely different backgrounds, broadening their horizons and allowing them to realise the world is bigger than their own perspective.

“It has a huge impact on their confidence and self-esteem, allowing them to form positive relationships and to develop the kind of soft skills potential employers are looking for, setting them up for the transition from school to college or university.”

‘The support I received was amazing’

Dami Olorunnisomo, 20, from Croydon, has been part of Reaching Higher since he was 13. Starting out by joining a football project, he later joined the leadership programme and now works for the charity.

He said: “At first, I wasn’t sure of what I would take from it but being a part of the programme changed my entire view on life. I have come through some difficult moments, made a lot of new friends and the support I have received from my mentors at Reaching Higher has been amazing.

“Since getting a permanent position, I’ve helped lead the same programme that taught me so much about myself and gave me the platform to try new things. I’ve come a long way in spite of going through difficult challenges and would recommend the leadership programme to other young people who feel unheard or misunderstood.”

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