2018 first-round winners

Read below to find out more about the groups and projects that we’re supporting with our first-round funding.

Educational institution award 

In our second-round bursary programme for 2018, we awarded one new bursary of £10,000.

Aston University

Aston University is using a bursary grant of £10,000 to support 20 students with their living expenses whilst undertaking unpaid placements.

The funding support will be focused on students undertaking placements in healthcare settings and they will each receive £500, paid in two equal instalments.

Dominic Riordan from Student and Academic Services at Aston University, said:

“The grant from the National Express Foundation will be used to support a number of students from low income families who are undertaking year-long unpaid placements as part of their studies within the School of Life and Health Sciences.

“The individual awards given to these students, studying healthcare-related courses such as Psychology, Audiology and Biomedical Sciences, will be used to supplement living costs while living and working away from Birmingham.

“Aston University is delighted to have been awarded a grant from the National Express Foundation and looks forward to working together in the future.”

Community award 

Read below to find out more about the groups and projects that we’re supporting with our second-round funding.

Balsall Heath CATS, Birmingham

Balsall Heath CATS is a voluntary group set up to help young people with disabilities and individual needs to be part of the local community.

The Foundation has previously funded the group’s projects in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. In 2018 Balsall Heath CATS is using a £5,000 grant to continue their Live, Laugh and Learn project, which we started supporting in 2016.

The Live, Laugh and Learn project includes a variety of sessions which give young people the opportunity to make choices and develop new interests, skills and confidence. The project provides them with the opportunity to work towards a performance that includes dance, drama, script writing and the organisation of a showcase event where they will perform in front of their families and people from the local community.

With our support, the Live, Laugh and Learn project will directly impact on the development of nearly 50 local young people aged 10-24 who might not otherwise be able to experience these kinds of opportunities and activities.

Nazreen Bi, Development Coordinator for Balsall Heath CATS, said:

"We are absolutely thrilled to receive a grant from the National Express Foundation. It will support local disabled children and young people to have a voice, get involved and take part in things that many of us take for granted. The funding really will have a huge impact on those involved to help them Live, Laugh and Learn." 

Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham

Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church provides opportunities for disadvantaged people in some of Birmingham’s most deprived areas to engage in a wide range of social, physical, recreational and educational activities to improve their health and wellbeing, self-esteem, education and confidence.

A £10,000 grant is supporting the group’s Dads and Lads project, with the aim of providing positive male role models for 25 disadvantaged boys and young men aged 12 to 18 who do not have a father figure or a positive male role model in their life.

The group is using the funding to deliver regular activities where the youngsters are teamed up with a mature and responsible volunteer, who then acts as their father figure or surrogate ‘Dad’.

Activities supported by our funding include the development of teamwork skills and confidence boosting workshops, communication skills, mentoring sessions and weekly sports, arts and music workshops. The young people involved will also have the opportunity to develop a mentoring project with their surrogate ‘Dad’, with the aim of helping them achieve a tangible level of educational attainment or overcome a specific barrier in their life.

Reverend Bryan Scott, Minister at Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church, said:

“I would like to thank the National Express Foundation for supporting the work of Cannon Street Dads and Lads project. The funding is truly appreciated - we promise to make a difference in as many young people’s lives as we can, in 2018 and beyond.”  

Essex Avenue Community Tenants and Residents Association, West Bromwich

Essex Avenue Community Tenants and Residents Association’s aim is to tackle issues in the local community by bringing neighbours together to support each other and to improve the area.

We have agreed to provide five years of funding to support the group’s activities, starting with £5,000 in 2018.

The group will use our funding to support a calendar of activities including career support services, community cohesion events, crime prevention strategies and social engagement evenings. The overall aim is to encourage 60 local young people to become good citizens that are engaged with and are a productive part of the local community.

Edna Dunn from Essex Avenue Community Tenants and Residents Association, said:

“On behalf of our association and the tenants and residents we represent, we would like to extend our overwhelming gratitude to the National Express Foundation for supporting the important work of this association and for believing in us.

“The funding support means that we have the opportunity to acquire the resources to support our young people to become better citizens, have better career aspirations and to deter them from antisocial behaviours through our projects.”

Gospel Oak Community Centre, Birmingham

Gospel Oak Community Centre operates from St Michael’s Church in the Hall Green area of Birmingham. The group works to promote the overall wellbeing, plus social and mental welfare of residents in the local area.

The Foundation previously supported the group in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 we have provided a £10,000 grant towards weekly activities that will engage 35 local teenagers.

The funding is supporting diversionary activities to prevent young people becoming involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. It will also encourage them to participate in enterprise and positive social action in their community.

Young people will work together to develop ideas for small businesses or social enterprises. The centre will also provide opportunities for some of the young people to spend five months volunteering with local charities which will help them gain crucial life skills and work experience.

Dave Crathorne, Centre Manager for Gospel Oak Community Centre, said:

“Receiving this grant from the National Express Foundation means we are able to continue to support the young people in and around our community centre. We are able to offer each and every participant the life chances they would not have access to without this funding.

“Our community craves cooperation and cohesion and the opportunities that this project gives means we will be able to deliver positive results and empower our young adults to make a positive difference in our community.”

Heart and Soul Community CIC, Wolverhampton

Heart and Soul Community CIC delivers training and development programmes to young people, offering guidance and practical support to those seeking employment. They aim to provide a voluntary, friendly and approachable service to complement statutory organisations and schemes such as the Job Centre.

In 2016 we supported Heart and Soul with a project aimed at supporting young people seeking apprenticeships or employment in the construction industry. In 2018 we have awarded a £10,000 grant to support the group with courses aimed at improving young people’s confidence and motivation, breaking down barriers and improving employability skills.

20 young people involved with the project will initially work with the Army Reserves to learn about team building, leadership, problem solving and personal development. They will then go on to learning about life skills which will help them understand and develop the key skills needed to go forward into work. The course will culminate in a community-based project which highlights their ability to work in teams and shine with their new found confidence.

Jayne Townsend, Director of Heart and Soul Community CIC, said:

“The National Express Foundation grant will be used to inspire young people to identify and develop life skills. These skills will be used to create a project which will give something back to the local community, giving the students the confidence, motivation and self-esteem which will stand them in good stead for their futures.”

Holding On Letting Go, Kent

Holding On Letting Go provides bereavement support for children and young people who are struggling to cope with the death of somebody very close to them.

In 2017 the Foundation gave the group £2,500 and is doing the same in 2018 to support the costs of art and music therapy sessions for circa 250 young people aged 6-16. The sessions include activities such as decorating bags, memory boxes, use of clay materials and CDs.

Caroline Ford from Holding On, Letting Go, said:

​"The grant from the National Express Foundation has been crucial in supporting us with our bereavement support weekends to help grieving children come to terms with the death of someone close to them and move forward in their lives.

“One of the youngsters involved summed up the difference this support has made to him when he said: I’m not as sad anymore. I got to make stuff that made me more smiley and helped me remember all the good fun things.”

Kids In Communication, Walsall and Wolverhampton

Kids In Communication is a youth-led, social action project that supports disengaged, vulnerable and emotionally challenged young people from some of the most deprived areas of Wolverhampton and Walsall. Their mission is to support young people in getting their voice heard.

A £20,000 grant is supporting the group’s social impact programme. Through teaching new skills in photography, digital citizenship, audio recording and editing, as well as the opportunity to use these new skills in a practical environment, 150 young people aged 8-18 will engage in positive activities, raising their aspirations by being able to earn a certified award.

Part of the funding is being used towards the Kicster’s Digital Citizenship Award which has been designed in partnership with the Open College Network to recognise the skills attained through attending the group’s Kicsters Clubs, which are then applied to the benefit of the local community. In 2017 we supported the costs of the Digital Citizenship Awards.

Rob Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Kids In Communication, said:

“KIC is absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with the National Express Foundation. The funding support will enable us to continue to deliver positive activities and recognise the achievements of many young people in Walsall and Wolverhampton. This charitable support is a vital lifeline for smaller organisations and really helps local communities.”

Lee Chapel North Helping Hands, Basildon

Lee Chapel North Helping Hands Job Club was set up in 2013 to provide a place for young people who have difficulty in accessing technology to look for work, training or education.

The Foundation provided funding for the group in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and in 2016 we pledged to give the group £5,000 for three years.

With the sale of the National Express Group c2c Rail business in 2017, we no longer invite applications from South Essex or East London groups as we are no longer a prominent public transport operator in that area, however we upheld our pledge to Lee Chapel and in 2018 provided them with their final annual grant.

The group is using £5,000 to support local young people who need to improve their English skills, or who use English as a second language. This support from Lee Chapel complements the existing activities but also helps to improve the users’ self-esteem and confidence, enabling them to move on to searching, applying for and hopefully securing a job or means of further education.

New Heights Warren Farm Community Project, Birmingham

New Heights was formed when local people became concerned about vulnerable peoples’ needs not being met. A small group formed a management committee and then registered as a charity that now works with the most disadvantaged members of Birmingham’s Kingstanding community.

A £5,000 grant is supporting the group’s fitness and sports activities after a community consultation identified that there is a lack of affordable and accessible opportunities for young people to participate in local sporting activities.

Part of the funding is being used towards equipment aligned to several different sports and part of it is being used towards an instructor who will run the activities but also train New Heights volunteers to ensure the project is sustainable. With our support the group hopes to engage 30 local young people.

John McGorman from New Heights Warren Farm Community Project, said:

“The National Express Foundation grant allows New Heights to establish opportunities for young people to participate in free activities here in Kingstanding. It will also support a qualified instructor to train New Heights volunteers so that the activities will be sustainable in the future. This is exactly the type of new activity in Kingstanding that local people asked for.”

New Life Resource Centre CIC, Walsall

New Life Resource Centre supports the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the local Walsall community. They look to support people self-actualising in little things and changes, which they feel can then bring about big changes.

The group is using a £10,000 grant to run an in-school intervention project for 30 young people who have been excluded or who are at risk of exclusion. The funding will support engaging activities in enterprise and creativity, problem solving, numeracy and literacy.

By working with specialist staff the young people will learn how to manage their behaviour and how to develop and manage themselves when under pressure, turning it into a more positive outcome.

Elizabeth Eze from New Life Resource Centre CIC, said:

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to work with the National Express Foundation. The funding will make a great difference to the delivery of our work.”

Olio Hub, Darlaston

Olio Hub was formed in 2012 as a direct result of public consultation in the Darlaston area of the West Midlands which identified that local young people did not have a facility or any structured out of school activities for them to join in with. The hub is now also used by other community groups which host their own activities on site for the wider community to enjoy.

The Foundation provided funding for the group in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and in 2016 pledged to give the group £5,000 for three years.

The group is using our £5,000 grant to further develop the activities available to young people in the Darlaston area, with some of the funding being used to purchase additional music instruments and music tutors and workshops which will enhance the learning and development of young people who currently use the existing facilities. The funding is also helping to provide extra ‘Born to Perform’ activity sessions for even more young people who have been unable to join due to limited availability of equipment. 

Sheppey Matters, Kent

Sheppey Matters aims to promote and protect the health and advance the education and social wellbeing of the people working and living on the Isle of Sheppey. It currently runs seven projects at four separate venues.

A £10,000 grant is being used to deliver sessions for 26 young people that have missed out on school for a variety of reasons. The sessions will encourage young people to learn in a structured way but without a regimented approach, helping them to develop key skills and qualifications for when they seek employment or further education.

Nigel Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Sheppey Matters, said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that the National Express Foundation is funding our project for young people on the Isle of Sheppey. The course is designed for an informal approach to attract young people, who may be having or have had a negative educational experience, to participate in a positive pathway into employment or further education.

“The Foundation funding, supported by the Sheppey Matters youth team, will give them the encouragement, skills and qualifications to achieve a more positive and confident outlook for their future.”

Smethwick Youth and Community Centre, Smethwick

Smethwick Youth and Community Centre aims to support people on their steps to success through health, employment, learning and poverty reduction. They offer inclusive cultural, educational, recreational and social programmes and services.

A £10,260 Foundation grant is supporting the group with a health and education project that they have called Smethwick Targeted Engagement Programme (STEP). It will engage around 200 young people aged between 11 and 19.

On the education side of the programme, the group will build upon the work they did in 2017 (with the help of our funding) whereby they help young people to improve their numeracy and literacy skills, providing them with a better chance at accessing the jobs market whilst increasing their educational knowledge.

On the health side of the programme, the group will engage young people in sporting activities throughout the year to encourage fitness and active, healthy lifestyles.

Luke Darbey, Community Centre Manager at Smethwick Youth and Community Centre, said:

"We are so pleased with the news of receiving funding from the National Express Foundation to support the Smethwick Targeted Engagement Programme (STEP), which focuses on health and education for young people.

“We have a true passion for supporting young people's development and securing this funding gives us the confidence that we can now help our next cohort of young people through their developing years in the key areas of educational and health development.

“We have young people that are so enthusiastic to be involved in this project and can't wait for our sessions to begin. Thank you again to the National Express Foundation for making this work possible."

Tara Martins Community Project, Kent

Tara Martins Community Project aims to help young, single, homeless people secure accommodation, jobs, education or vocational skills to enable them to sustain independent lives within the community.

In 2017 the National Express Foundation provided the group with a £2,500 grant to support the costs associated with a day centre which provided young homeless people with the opportunity to learn skills and access training that would enable them to get back into further education or jobs.

In 2018 a £10,000 grant is supporting the group’s one-year work experience and work placement programme which will engage 100 young unemployed people aged between 18 and 24, providing them with valuable skills and experience for future employment.

Tara Sobowale from the Tara Martins Community Project, said:

“We would like to say a huge thank you to the National Express Foundation for supporting our 2018 work experience programme. It is designed to enable the increasing number of young unemployed people get into work and training and follows on from the previous youth engagement programme which was also made possible by a grant from the National Express Foundation.

“We are sure that with this year's grant we will be helping many more young people and creating an even greater positive impact in our community.” 

The Vine Trust Walsall, Walsall

The Vine Trust Walsall was founded in 1989 as a youth drop-in facility in a notorious derelict pub in the town centre. The trust has developed a multi-channel proactive response to the evolving needs of young people in the Black Country.

A £20,000 grant is supporting the group’s StreetLife project, which will engage 40 16-24 year olds by developing their sense of good citizenship.

StreetLife a regular daytime catering service for rough sleepers in Walsall town centre, run by a team of mainly volunteer young people that are safeguarded and supervised by a small management group from Vine Trust’s existing staff team.

Paul Watson, Director of Vines Trust Walsall, said:

“Walsall, just like most towns and cities has seen the challenges many of our homeless citizens face on a daily basis and the National Express Foundation has demonstrated their commitment to social impact projects that directly affect local communities.

“The funding support from the Foundation is invaluable to deliver our Street Life project. It will help create awareness and a tangible platform for our youth to help with the needs of their local community.”

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, Birmingham

Founded in 1980, The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country was the first ever urban Wildlife Trust, establishing the importance of enabling city residents to connect with their local natural environment.

A £10,000 grant is supporting two environmental projects that engage 72 15-18 year olds from inner-city Birmingham.

The first, based in Winson Green, consists of two six-month programmes of volunteering and practical training for young people with special educational needs.

The second, based in Small Heath, consists of a series of four-week-long courses for young people that are NEET or at-risk of becoming NEET.

Gareth Morgan, People and Wildlife Manager for The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, said:

“Thank you to the National Express Foundation for supporting our work connecting young people with their natural environment.

“We believe everybody should have the right to enjoy nature and wildlife and now we’ll be able to support even more city kids discover and explore the nature in their neighbourhoods.”

Walsall Creative Factory CIC, Walsall

Walsall Creative Factory was set up to provide community cohesion and educational projects in Walsall using the arts.

The group has worked with three separate groups in the north Walsall area and is using a £10,000 grant to support a six month exchange programme between the disparate groups.
The programme will engage 70 young people aged between 9 and 25, helping them gain a greater understanding of the different natures of the people in each group and the issues that they face. The young people will explore issues such as identity, prejudice and preconceptions and aims to change how the participants feel about different sections of society.

The groups are Birchills Youth Club which are predominantly muslim asian young people, Creative Factory Youth Arts Group which includes deaf members and Goscote Greenacres which includes young people with special educational needs in a mainly white working class area.

Each group will complete their own exploration project with four exchange events where they will each bring a presentation and contribute to each other’s events.

Debra Slade from Walsall Creative Factory CIC, said:

“Walsall Creative Factory are over the moon to be awarded funding for our exchange project with Birchills Youth Club and Goscote Greenacres. The project will enable us to support all three organisations to explore self identity and prejudice in their own space and bring their projects to exchange as each group will host the others to build up understanding and break down perceived barriers between different communities.”