2014 winners

Read below to find out more about the groups we supported in 2014 and how our funding helped with their projects and activities.

Educational institution award 

In 2014 we awarded a total of £80,000 to three educational institutions. Read on to find out how our funding helped support local students.

Aston University

Aston University is using its three year annual bursary to support ten undergraduate students from the West Midlands who would have otherwise experienced financial difficulties attending university.

The bursaries of £1,000 each (for three years) have been awarded to those studying subject areas in which males and females are typically under-represented - women studying for a degree in engineering and men studying a foreign language.

Birmingham Metropolitan College

Birmingham Metropolitan College is using its two year annual bursary to assist 20 students across Birmingham and the Black Country by providing smaller bursaries of £500 each.

The funding means students on some of the more resource intensive courses such as medical sciences, fashion, art and design, and engineering, to fully participate without limitation due to financial constraints whilst studying.

Newman University, Birmingham

Newman University is using its three year annual bursary to provide ten full-time single and combined honours undergraduate students with £1,000 each. As a condition of receiving the funding the students are required to take part in voluntary support for local charitable organisation which is in line with the work that the Foundation is doing with community groups.

This bursary funding will help with the cost of student course materials and living expenses during their full time studies over three years.

Community award 

In 2014 we awarded £35,000 to 13 different groups. Read on to find out how our funding helped the groups with their projects.

Arc Theatre, Barking

Arc Theatre works with people in Barking and Dagenham to explore issues that are affecting their lives. It uses theatre performance and training to help those people to make positive changes to their own lives but also to their local communities.

A £2,500 grant was used to fund a week-long drama course for pupils from Eastbrook School. The course taught them different drama techniques to explore the theme of community cohesion in relation to anti-social behaviour and the impact it can have on others.

Together they wrote a new play called “Above their Station" and the course culminated with a group performance of the new play at Barking station in August 2014, which was watched by more than 100 commuters including the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and the Mayor of Barking. Click the video above to watch it for yourself.

Clifford Oliver, Artistic Director of Arc Theatre, said: “We had the most amazing week. The course explored drama techniques and different ways you can engage with an audience. We also shared our own feelings about anti-social behaviour and what it can mean to different people, and then we put it all together into a play. These young people are phenomenal and their performance levels were awesome.  Lots of passers-by stopped to watch what was going on.”

Following the initial performance at Barking station, Arc Theatre has continued helping the pupils to perform “Above their Station” for other students at Eastbrook School.  

B'3 Foundation, Newham

The B’3 Foundation is a community organisation that provides a range of career focused self-empowerment workshops in East London to help young people raise their aspiration levels and reach their full potential.

Due to circumstances beyond the group's control, they were unable to deliver their project in 2014, however their £2,500 grant is being used during 2015 to fund a seven-week media and film making course aimed at young people living in Newham who are not in employment, education or training, with the aim of teaching them how to film and produce short documentaries.

The filming will include interviews with eight UK hip-hop artists who talk about their own challenges, any barriers to employment and how they overcame them to achieve successful careers in the music industry.

Balsall Heath Children Action Team Support, Birmingham

Balsall Heath CATS is a voluntary group that provides support and play opportunities for local children with individual needs to be part of the local community and to support and develop their different potentials.

The group secured a £2,500 grant in 2014 after having successfully achieved the same funding in 2013. The funding has been used to support the group’s TopCATS youth group, which runs at least twice a month and brings together disabled and non-disabled young people living in and around the Birmingham areas of Balsall Health and Sparkbrook.

The project is helping to break down the cycle of under achieving and enables the youngsters to reach their full potential and aim higher despite any perceived barriers.

Some of the activities that TopCATS has organised are visits to a fireworks show, a music making workshop, a trip to the cinema, and also a visit to The Skills Show at Birmingham's NEC where one of our National Express coaches was taking part. The youngsters had a great time taking a look around on board (pictured above).

TopCATS encourage the youngsters that attend to make a positive impact in their community by taking up basic training and volunteering at Balsall Heath CATS play schemes and other play days. One of the youngsters involved won a local Dynamic Youth Award.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham

The CBSO is the resident orchestra at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and through its learning and engagement programme develops the talent of over 35,000 local residents aged 8 upwards.

A £5,000 grant was used to deliver a programme of creative composition workshops for ten young people from the Perry Barr district of Birmingham. The workshops gave them the opportunity to learn about classical music and how the fundamentals of music composition – notation, key, time and rhythm – are equally important in contemporary music genres with which they are more familiar, including RnB, Dubstep and Hip Hop.

The youngsters then used the basic skills learned in the workshops to compose pieces of their own music, taking inspiration from both classical and contemporary music, and they used real issues – such as economic and cultural exclusion, community tensions, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse – as tools to develop lyrical content during the project.

Participants were also enrolled in to the Arts Council England’s Arts Award scheme which is an accredited course that provides a platform to show young people’s level of commitment and progress in the arts and in developing new skills. It takes at least 60 hours to complete and the youngsters work with their advisers to develop a portfolio of work which can include reviews of arts events, artist research and delivering leadership projects with other people.

Green Shoes Arts Community Interest Company, Dagenham

Green Shoes Arts run projects in drama, dance, visual arts and music to provide opportunities for young people to create positive change in their own lives and the local community. The projects are led by young people, for young people, to help them gain a sense of responsibility and achievement, whilst the local community sees a positive image of young people in the Barking and Dagenham area.

A £2,500 grant was used to extend a youth arts programme called ‘Young Producers’ over the summer of 2014. 12 young people aged between 13 and 19 were given master classes in theatre and script writing, dance, creative writing, visual arts, film making and workshop delivery. Workshops focused on issues facing local young people including cyber bullying, freedom of speech, greed and technology.

After the first week of master classes each participant delivered their own workshops to other local young people aged between 5 and 10 years old at various venues including local libraries, local historical site Valance Park and also on the pop-up Pallet Pavillion. 175 children attended and over 43 parents joined in with the activities too. Click on the video above to watch the stop animation workshop delivered at Dagenham library in August 2014.

Of the 12 that attended the summer workshops, nine have continued working with Green Shoes Rising Stars Youth Theatre and have also been selected to be part of the National Theatre Connections Programme.

Four of the ‘Young Producers’ also went on to work on Gold Arts Awards and are set to complete them by the end of the academic year in 2015, and one has already finished and passed her Gold Arts Award. One more has gone on to study dance and performing arts at college and is also volunteering for Green Art’s children’s theatre. Following on from the workshop that she delivered she had said:

“After I finish my arts award I was thinking I could do some more workshops like today. The kids loved it and I loved teaching them! I would really like to do more of this!”

Krunch UK, Birmingham

Krunch UK works with a wide range of schools in the Sandwell region of the West Midlands to enable young people to discover who they are, what they want to be and how to get there. It provides one to one mentoring, music workshops, motivational support for key stage 3 and 4 pupils, volunteering opportunities and youth club sessions.

A £2,500 grant was used to deliver workshops to 12 students in two schools. The workshops covered the theme of community cohesion by encouraging students to work on their experiences and feelings by breaking down barriers and perceived differences.

The workshops were targeted at students who were at risk of dropping-out of education, with the project acting as an incentive for them to attend school and re-engage through learnings related to music production and recording, writing lyrics, DJing, guitar tuition, and graphic design, all backed up with packs containing information on careers and opportunities in music technology.

At the end of the project in January 2015 a presentation evening was organised so that youngsters were able to share their work with their peers, parents, carers, and community representatives. Three of the youngsters involved in the workshops took to the stage to perform a song they had created with help from Krunch UK's youth worker and they were subsequently presented with certificates for their efforts.

Lee Chapel North Helping Hands Job Club, Basildon

Lee Chapel North Helping Hands provides a job club and food bank for the Basildon community to help bring together the unemployed, contractors, training providers and colleges to help those who are seeking first-time employment or a change in career.

This group was successful in obtaining a £5,000 grant in 2013 and in 2014 was awarded a further £2,500. The 2013 grant supported the job club in providing local young people with advice on CV writing and job applications, improving their communication skills and building their confidence. The subsequent grant in 2014 has helped Lee Chapel to expand the existing job club and increase the number of sessions available for the local 16-24 year olds.

John McKay, Chair of Lee Chapel North Helping Hands Job Club said:

"The grant from the National Express Foundation has enabled us to build on what we achieved in our job club last year. The job market is getting tougher every week, and we can help with further training and developing life skills, which our local youngsters need in order to meet modern employment standards."

Olio Youth Hub, Darlaston

Olio Youth Hub was founded as a direct result of public consultation in the Darlaston area of the West Midlands. Local councillors, businesses, the police and volunteers all took part in the consultation which identified that local youngsters did not have any structured out of school activities for them to join in with.

A £5,000 Foundation grant that Olio was awarded in 2013 helped the group to expand the level of activities on offer for the local youngsters, including a specific project to renovate a garden area. The subsequent £2,500 grant in 2014 helped Olio to create a fitness room which is used by the youngsters and other local community groups. The hub also used some of the funding towards a music area which has musical equipment, recording equipment and a sound booth so that those that attend can learn, play, record and produce CD’s of their own compositions.

The development of the fitness and music activity was decided upon by the youth hub’s own steering group which consists of youngsters who attend the hub, so they themselves directly affected how the funding has been used.

Saint Stephens Church, Southend

Saint Stephens Church set up a youth football programme for local boys and girls in a safe, fun and healthy environment where they can enjoy themselves whilst learning valuable life lessons.

A £2,500 grant helped to support this group of 10-13 year olds with the cost of funding pitch hire, kits and training equipment. Pitch hire is the group’s main on-going outlay and continues through the school holidays so that the youngsters can play football all year round.

As the programme became increasingly popular, the need to fund an additional pitch to ease congestion on the first pitch was also apparent for the group as they wanted to continue to take on youngsters rather than have to turn them away because they are ‘too full’ - this is where most of the funding was utilised.

Through football and the mentoring of volunteer leaders they learned about team work, responsibility, tolerance, respect for others, leadership skills, how to deal with success and failure while at the same time gaining confidence and trust in themselves and in each other.

South East and Central Essex Mind Ltd, Southend

South East and Central Essex Mind deliver mental health services across South East and Central Essex. Its aim is to strive for a society that promotes and protects good mental well being for all, and which treats people with experience of mental distress fairly, positively and with respect.

A £2,500 grant has helped to fund a sessional youth counsellor that delivers confidential sessions for students in local schools, as well as facilitating other activities including ‘friendship groups’, youth focus groups and community diversity events. The sessions and activities help students cope more effectively in their local community.

Subjects covered in the sessions include body image, sexuality, educational attainment, mental health, exercise and food, passions in life, life goals, parents and family members, substance misuse, lack of motivation, teenage pregnancy, disability, young carers, peer pressure and stress.

The project works in partnership with local schools in Southend-on-Sea and supports disadvantaged young people who are experiencing difficulties either within school or at home because they feel excluded from their community.

Sutton Coldfield YMCA, Birmingham

Sutton Coldfield YMCA supports disadvantaged local people by providing youth and play activities designed to inspire engagement and increase personal and social development skills. It stimulates and challenges its members in an environment that enables them to take responsibility and find a sense of achievement.

A £2,500 grant supported the development of the YMCA’s Stockland Green community hub, from which a programme of youth activity is now being delivered.

The objective of the youth programme is to identify and work with local young people who are at risk of or who are involved in gangs, reduce anti-social behaviour and crime, promote community cohesion, identify young people who may be excluded from or not attending school and refer them to different projects, target and engage young people in to diversionary activities, and promote alcohol and drug awareness amongst young people in the area.

Urban Devotion Birmingham

Urban Devotion Birmingham is a resident initiated charity committed to engaging young people and children in activities and provisions that enable them to be the best that they can be and to contribute to the development and cohesion of their local community.

A £2,500 Foundation grant has been used to support a weekly after school youth group for local children in the Key Stage 2 age group so that they have a safe and helpful environment.

The youth group sessions include play and craft activities and a quiet area for homework, reading and online research which may not otherwise be provided at home due to circumstances within their families.

The group has also introduced extra youth work sessions which are being delivered in the local community to further develop engagement opportunities.

Safeline, Warwick

Safeline supports victims of rape and sexual abuse by offering therapeutic and non-clinical support to people aged 11 years upwards. It has recently diversified to include prevention of child sexual exploitation, abuse, violence and crime affecting young people in Warwickshire aged between 12 and 16 years.

Unfortunately Safeline were unable to use their £2,500 grant during 2014, however they intend to use it during 2015 to support the delivery of the Safeline Project in an identified area of Birmingham or Coventry and will involve 12 disadvantaged young people who are at risk of, or have been subjected to sexual abuse, criminal activity, domestic violence or who have shown inappropriate conduct towards others.

Workshop sessions will take place weekly, over an eight week period, and will cover subjects such as internet safety, avoiding sexual exploitation, bullying, anger management, drug abuse, binge drinking, being an ethical bystander, gang culture and positive relationships and attitudes.

Those involved will be encouraged to develop a keeping safe campaign which will include artwork statistics and a presentation to parents at the end of the project. They will also have the opportunity to achieve accredited ASDAN awards in sports and fitness or expressive arts