From education to employment

Charities awarded £60,000 by CSJ Foundation

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CSJ Foundation announces its award winning charities in 2022

Our six fantastic award winners are dedicated organisations stopping at nothing, neither a global pandemic nor a cost-of-living crisis, to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people across the UK.

The awards from the Westminster-based Foundation celebrate the nation’s small charities who have been central to supporting the most vulnerable in their communities and doing everything in their power to give vital skills, help and time to those in need.

The Foundation’s mission is to ensure that the voices of those working to tackle poverty around the country are heard by decision-makers in London. The awards, presented at a dinner in Westminster on Monday night attended by leading politicians and media stars, reward the most outstanding small charities fighting poverty on the frontline.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, the six award winners will each receive £10,000. In addition, each charity receives a professionally produced promotional film to help raise their profile, and ongoing support from the CSJ Foundation.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, founder and Chairman of the CSJ, commented:

“We hope you see what we see: dedicated organisations stopping at nothing, neither a global pandemic nor a cost-of-living crisis, to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people across Britain. But more than this, we hope that their work and stories will demonstrate what is possible and inspire you to follow their lead.”

The winners are:

Storybook Dads

Storybook Dads, based in Denbury, provides families with the opportunity to reconnect through the power of storytelling. Each year over 312,000 children experience the imprisonment of a parent, affecting their self-esteem and general wellbeing.

Sharon Berry – CEO and founder of Storybook Dads – said:

‘We have a unique family-centred approach that responds to nurturing both parent and child at a vulnerable stage. Winning a CSJ Award will help raise our profile and fund our projects which have made an exceptional difference to the lives of children struggling while a parent is in prison. The chances of a prisoner reoffending are up to six times less likely when family ties are maintained. We help to give back a little of what prison takes away.’

St Edmund’s Society

St Edmund’s, based in central Norwich, provides vocational trade-related qualifications to marginalised, socially excluded young people mainly between the ages of 11-18 who are struggling or have struggled within mainstream education and failed to achieve. These young people tend to be largely written off or ignored and find themselves adding to the ranks of those considered NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

Lorraine Bliss of St Edmund’s Society said:

‘By providing vocational training and support to many young people who, through not being “school shaped” have struggled through the traditional “one size fits all” education system which has simply failed them. They have become known as “The Forgotten or Ghost Children”, many of whom come from disconnected and marginalised families in poverty making them vulnerable and at risk of CCE (Child Criminal Exploitation).

We presently have a full cohort of 126 post-16 and 100,+ school students for the academic year 2022/23. With the CSJ Award, we intend to continue fulfilling our short-term aspirations to reach even more young people and families while raising awareness of a neglected but growing problem for society as a whole and to ensure that all young people actually receive an education suitable for their needs irrespective of academic ability.

We will continue to campaign for proper registration to become recognised and funded accordingly, by both the DfE and ESFA as well as recognised as a ‘specialist vocational alternative provider” and an alternative to FE college for those with promise but lacking the educational entry requirements.  These young people are our future and should not be written off.’

The Oasis Project

The Oasis Project, based in central Brighton and founded in 1997 by a group of women with lived experience of drug use, helps women, children and families who have been affected by drug and alcohol addiction to find the strength and opportunities needed to help lead to change.

Oasis Project provides a broad portfolio of services including structured, gender-specific drug and alcohol treatment for women, a Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, a dedicated service for women who have had children removed from their care, therapy for children affected by parental substance misuse and a free creche for babies and toddlers.

Laura Ward – CEO of Oasis Project – said:

‘Oasis Project remains one of the only providers gender-specific drug and alcohol services in the UK. We run a range of programmes that aim to support women to address drug and alcohol addiction alongside providing a creche and therapy for children and young people affected by parental substance misuse. We are so proud to have won this award – it recognises the value of our truly unique approach. We hope it will enable us to reach more women, children and families find the strength and opportunities to make choices that lead to change.’

The Moses Project

The Moses Project, based in Stockton-on-Tees, provides daily support, mentoring, and activities for men aged 25 and over who have become isolated from society, due to addiction or unforeseen circumstances. The focus is on ‘changing lives’ and living free from addiction. They often deal with addicts who are the second and third generation, breaking the cycle of generational poverty that may lead to further substance abuse.

Brian Jones of the Moses Project said:

‘Our service fosters profound connections with beneficiaries as many staff members and volunteers have lived experience of addiction or homelessness at some point in their lives. Men who are in difficult situations finally feel they belong and can depend on a Moses Project volunteer and staff member to be a trusted support through their difficult process of recovery. The CSJ award will help us provide housing for clients during the rehabilitation process, offering an opportunity to recover, rebuild lives and return to society. ‘

Aspire NI

Aspire NI, based in Craigavon, works with children in Northern Ireland in poverty to help close the educational attainment gap experienced by the most disadvantaged. It has three main programmes that are run in partnerships with schools. After school homework clubs are offered for young people in a supervised and supportive environment.

Facilitators are present to encourage young people and provide tuition and support. A skills academy is also delivered and taught over an academic year by professionals in fields such as barista training, business, youth work, art and music production.

Mark Knox of Aspire NI said:

‘The CSJ Award will enable us to achieve our goal to cover 44 schools up from 18. There is now a support network to provide children in low-income families with the opportunities that we would not otherwise receive. Especially after lockdown, children that have been neglected or lacked guidance need the support of organisations like ours more than ever. We aim to eradicate poverty in Northern Ireland and give every young person a quality education.’


Khulisa, based in Westminster, exists to support excluded or marginalised young people whose behaviour is deemed challenging or antisocial, and the professionals, peers and carers who support them. It ensures young people affected by trauma or adversity have the social skills and emotional support they need to thrive.

The charity delivers intensive therapeutic programmes in the education sector, designed for young people from disadvantaged communities at risk of offending, exploitation, and exclusion.

Cara Cinnamon of Khulisa said:

‘Winning a CSJ Award helps support our flagship programme “Face It” which is a group therapeutic programme, offered to young people who have experienced disadvantage and are at high risk of permanent exclusion, being exploited or drawn into criminality or violence.  Our work is designed using the latest developments in neuroscience and builds foundational social and emotional skills which enables young people to feel more confident, to manage their emotions and ultimately to engage more positively in the world around them.”

Andy Cook, CEO of the CSJ said:

“Each of these charities are well-deserved winners. They all do fantastic work to help people across the country. They strengthen the abused, upskill the rejected, and connect the fatherless. They come from far and wide, from Northern Ireland to Brighton, and spend their time in prison cells, pupil referral units and pubs meeting those who are lost from their community.

They’ve designed new technology programs, they’ve challenged the education system, and they’ve smashed dangerous growing orthodoxies in areas like addiction. Their stories reveal significant difficulty, but also hope. Their experience is of tragedy, but also turn-around. And they are just what we all need at this moment.”

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