2021 winners

Read below to find out more about the groups and projects that we supported in 2021 for delivery in 2022.

Community awards 

Read below to find out more about the groups and projects that we supported with funding in 2021.

Balsall Heath CATS

The group aims to use it £10,000 award to build on previous activity supported by the Foundation, to offer more activities for young people with disabilities and their siblings across 12 months. Its aim is to make sure that members always have somewhere safe that they can be guaranteed to be able to play, create and have fun with other young people, independent of school and their parents, just as other young people without disabilities, or care responsibilities can more easily do.

The funding previously received for the Express Yourself project was used to help young people develop new skills in communication and using social media. However, because of Covid the group was unable to do the training element to create Junior Helpers as originally intended and they were really restricted in how they worked with young people using online sessions.

Since returning to in person work with the young people, the group found that their levels of self-esteem and confidence has plummeted, and they have also gained weight and lost direction. Express Yourself Confidently will engage them in arts, cooking, sport, leisure activities and outings to get them back into activity which are good for their mind and body. They will be upskilledt to use digital technology and social media to share their experiences online. This will help develop confidence and provide them with training to help them in volunteering and think about job and career prospects.

Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid

Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid were awarded £10,000 to deliver their Forward Together programme which will proactively address the isolation, loneliness and poor mental health caused by the Covid pandemic on young women aged 16-24 affected by domestic and sexual violence. Many of these young women experience multiple issues, including drug/alcohol abuse, poor mental health, poverty and homelessness; often with a negative view of the world and their place in it. Covid severely exacerbated these issues, particularly around loneliness, isolation and mental health. Forward Together is a year-long programme of refuge and community-based activities, combating isolation/loneliness and supporting young women’s mental health through creative participatory activities, including art, physical wellbeing and music.

Blessed to Blessed

The main focus of the Foundation funding of £10,000 is to deliver work experience for young people with special needs so they can gain employability skills in the food packaging, service, and distribution domains. The aim of the programme is to teach valuable skills and create a strong employability foundation. Second, they aim  want to change general views about the ability of people with special needs to have jobs, interact with others, and fit into the community. After Covid, they need support to get back on their feet and reintegrate into society.

Bloxwich Community Partnership

The£10,000 award will provide a ‘pop up’ support project engaging hard to reach and challenging young people. The grant will fund 2 youth workers running 72 x 2hr support sessions, resources & hire of the youth bus from January to July 2022. Specific locations will be targeted were young people hang out for example in parks and shopping precincts. We will use the youth bus which is a mobile youth resource to transport workers to said location and engage young people where they are. The bus will be used as the safe space for young people to gain guidance and support building has an internal seating area in the rear of the vehicle to deliver issued based discussions. It is a partnership project with Bloxwich Community Partnership being the lead and delivering in Bloxwich/Blakenall, Frank F Harrision CA in Birchills/Leamore/Willenhall and Youth Connect delivering in Pleck/Palfrey. Each partner will deliver 24 sessions in their respected areas. 


Following Covid 19, many young people have experienced challenges to access opportunity and one major group has been those with special needs. ConnectEd seeks to use its £10,000 to untap a great potential workforce which is lying dormant within our community.  The initiative will develop the skills of young people with special needs through a range of inclusive activities. They will work with sporting governing bodies, Active Partnerships and other partners to identify the appropriate training, as well as work with local social/sporting clubs to ensure their practice is inclusive. Through its networks ConnectEd will support participants to volunteer at facilities/clubs/local providers to enable the activity to take part. Leadership programmes such have been proven to raise confidence, aspiration and attainment, as demonstrated by previous projects delivered with funding from the Foundation.

Employability UK

EmployabilityUK used a grant of £10,000 to widen participation to their Journey to Success programme which is part of their Inspiring Young Birmingham (IYB) programme. The extended provision will allow people, who may not have otherwise had the chance, to prepare themselves for volunteer or paid job roles at the Commonwealth Games in the city. The specific aim of the Journey to Success programme is to deliver to young people from selected groups. The sessions will be delivered by professional volunteers and young employees that are on, or have been through the Kickstart programme. Each young person will attend at least one face to face workshop and one virtual workshop.

Excite Active CIC

Excite has partnered with a local academy to act as a hub for the delivery of the project, which will target 15 -17 year olds. It is targeting young people from areas of poverty, developing opportunities for voluntary work and work experience with its £5,000 grant. The project will begin in February 2022 and run throughout the year. Each participant will be engaged regularly (at least every 6 weeks), providing opportunities for stakeholder engagement. Participants will have access to a broad range of placements. The project will be evaluated on an ongoing basis with regular formal and informal feedback from participants, allowing the impact of the project to be measured clearly. Activity will be kept local and the use of public transport will be promoted in order to reduce excessive travel and minimise the impact on the environment. The legacy of the project will exceed its delivery timescale, as the work done will create lasting impact in readying young people for the world of work.

Friar Park Millenium Centre

The £10,000 grant will be used to give young people aged 15 - 24 year olds the opportunity to have a safe place to take part in activities physical, creative, to learn new skills around moving forward with their educational path, giving support starting in employment, cooking skills and day to day living budgeting. Attendees will participate in sport activities of their choice. A sports coach will work with the young people to create a programme of activities that they are interested in. We will also be offering learning support with CV writing, interview techniques, mock interviews. Support will be given with filling in application forms for college and supporting if there becomes a need with personal statements for university. One of the aims is to give young people a place to come and feel safe, helping with their mental health, loneliness, isolation and the problems of boredom including a lack of motivation. 

Hall Green Youth - Birmingham

Hall Green Youth will use a grant of £5,000 from the Foundation to support two projects. Firstly, to provide mentoring support for young people at Hall Green Secondary School through weekly one to one mentoring sessions. These sessions will support these young people in understanding issues that are impacting them, improving their mental wellbeing. Secondly, to build on the mentoring support, we will run a support group at the Church of the Ascension, Hall Green, after school on a Thursday and invite the young people who we are mentoring plus other young people identified by local schools as benefiting from support. Weekly sessions will include an icebreaker, activities, group discussion and quiet space. These sessions will enable these young people to build their confidence, social skills and networks by interacting with their peers in a positive environment. 

Ileys Community Association

Ileys will use the funding of £10,000 to open a Young Adult Enterprise Hub [YAEH] based in the Soho and Victoria areas of Sandwell, which is 12th most deprived in the county. This will deliver a much-needed personalised empowerment coaching programme involving a range of skills, enterprise, and employment related advice, information, guidance, and training for BAME young people, aged 11–24. The programme will be delivered by two part time, qualified employment coaches over 52 weeks. This capacity building project is designed to help young people develop new and current skills. The project will also encourage young people to take on volunteering roles whilst being teamed up with mentors, teaching them how it can be used as a tool for experience, gaining qualifications and building confidence. 

InPower Academy

InPower Academy will use a £10,000 grant to set up the FYT Club - a youth club with additional support, training and opportunities for young people. FYT stands for Find Your Truth which reflects what InPower wants to achieve with the project. The Club will be set up in the Park Village/ Heath Town area of Wolverhampton, and operate four times a week. Activities will include martial arts, football, archery and basketball. As an Asdan centre, the group will offer qualifications to young people that would improve their likelihood of future work. 


Inspired2Connect plans to use its £2,500 grant to work with 12 local young people (particularly those from BAME backgrounds) to help them bring their social enterprise ideas to life. They aim to teach young people between the ages of 15 and 24 the skills needed to run a successful and sustainable social enterprise that impacts them and their communities in a positive manner. Participants will offered 1-2-1 and group coaching and mentoring sessions, help to create a business and operational plan, support to create a strong and robust governance structure including the registration of the social enterprise. It will then help them create, develop, test and re-design their services, as needed. The programme will run for 12 months and will provide support to create sustainable social enterprises.

Kids in Communication

Kids in Communication is an established, Walsall-based provider of youth support. Its aim is to improve the life chances of young people from deprived areas. Using the funding, Kids in Communication will deliver sessions and online support within two areas identified as having high levels of deprivation - Darlaston (WS10) and Brownhills (WS8). It engages young people through a wide range of digital based activities such as gaming, radio and TV production. Recognition and achievement is evidenced through an accredited awards programme delivered in partnership with Open College Network. 

Let Us Play

Let Us Play is a children’s charity in Wolverhampton that provides craft, sport, and leisure opportunities for children with special needs and disabilities. The Foundation £5,000 funding will enable the Compass project to be run for older members who really struggle with social isolation, especially after the Covid pandemic. The project aims to improve the social inclusion, skills for life, and mental well being of those present. Through attendance at the project members gain the confidence to join a SEND volunteer project with a view to improving their future career opportunities and helping them towards their aspirations for an independant future. Many members are bussed out of the area to attend the most appropriate school for their educational needs which means that during evenings, weekends and holidays they are alone and isolated. 

Loaves n Fishes

Loaves and Fishes, based in Dudley, are a community organisation supporting people leaving hostels, fleeing domestic violence or in housing crises. They have been awarded £10,000 to develop a programme offering tailored routes to employment.

This project will ensure that the very specific challenges relating to young people and employment will be able to be fully met. Specifically, this grant will allow the group to employ a part time specialist young persons worker who will act as a tutor and programme coordinator for this project, supporting the young people whilst they are with us and also to secure routes into actual employment with one of our partner organisations following their training with us. Each course will include:

  • Health and safety and safeguarding training
  • Support with CV writing and interview skills
  • Practical work including tasters in all areas of work followed by more in-depth experience in two chosen areas.

The programme will also identify long term goals and develop an individualised learning plan (using partners or external training bodies where appropriate) to support the skills and personal development goals of the young person.

Longford Short Football

Longford Short Football is a voluntary organisation providing mentorship and exercise through football. The group have been bringing their adapted football concept to communities in inner city Coventry since 1995. The group worked with the National Express Foundation in 2019 to host the ‘grab a football not a knife’ project. Their latest project will see them deliver football, fitness and wellbeing sessions from a new pop up ‘stadium’.


New Heights Warren Farm

New Heights is a community charity whose aim is to 'To meet the needs of the most disadvantaged members of the Kingstanding community in North Birmingham and to help to bring about social cohesion in this economically deprived area

The National Express Foundation grant of £10,000 will enable New Heights to fund a part-time activities co-ordinator to develop a challenging programme of activities for 55 young people who will become positively engaged in delivering community activities and interacting with local older and disabled people whilst learning new skills and interests as part of their social development.

The project's 'Youth Social Action' activity programme will comprise of community focused educational activities and projects, including volunteering at a free Breakfast Club, toiletries collections for the homeless, delivery of free food hampers, and research projects covering important community cohesive topics. In addition, Family Meal packs will be provided, containing food items and simple recipes to encourage development of life skills while cooking a meal for their family. 

Towards the end of the year a 'Local Citizenship Award for Young People’ community event will be held, attended by family, friends and community - where all young people who complete 'Youth Social Action' activities will be presented with a certificate by a community representative."

Olio Hub

The £10,000 grant will be used by Olio Hub to provide organised activities in a safe and welcoming environment, with fully qualified, CRB checked and insured, tutors and coaches. Its team of dedicated volunteers will also play a major role in delivery. Activities are varied and available afternoon/evenings every day (after formal education times), weekends and during school holidays. Its wide range of projects  aim to reach and satisfy the diverse needs of the community.

Queen Alexandra College

QAC will use the £10,000 funding to offer a community outreach service to ex-students who left in summer 2020, the first summer of Covid. Due to the abrupt and early finish to their time at QAC, they did not receive the usual transition support that we would normally offer such as supporting them in identifying and visiting next steps. For many QAC our students, particularly those with autism, the sudden loss of routine, lack of support and dealing with the uncertainty around Covid had a really negative impact. Many of these ex-students are still not engaging or accessing opportunities due to reasons, such as lack of confidence, increases anxiety, lack of awareness of opportunities or support available. The project will use a part time ‘Outreach Worker’ post to re-connect with these students, working with them to identify barriers and help overcome them; through researching opportunities and activities, joining them on visits and activities, signposting them and also organising social activities for the group to reconnect with each other. 

The Cultural Connection

The Cultural Connection will use £5,000 to deliver its Empowerment 2 Employment programme targeted towards young people aged between 16 and 24 years old, who as a result of barriers and/or complex issues are not in employment, education or training. The programme will be an interactive mentoring programme consisting of group and 1:1 work that covers challenging the mindset, identifying career goals, CV writing skills, interviewing techniques, mentoring and follow-up support once a job has been successfully secured. 

The Inspire Group

The Inspire Group will use its £10,000 grant from the Foundation to support the two year implementation of a life skills programme that will harness community sport and activity as a tool for young people to raise their aspirations and brighten the future they see for themselves. It will offer group activity, personal mentoring and outside opportunities to young people across the borough to first experience the value and benefit that sport and physical can have on their lives, whilst then supporting their mental, physical and social wellbeing though mentoring.

TLC College

TLC College will use £10,000 to engage 80 young people over 12 months in disadvantaged areas of Wolverhampton to participate in innovative weekly workshops that provide each group with a small budget to develop “small community experiences” of their choice.

The funding will provide workshops where young people learn about food and nutrition, and learn some basic filming skills, which they can combine to produce fun and slick cooking videos. Other activities requested by young people include; sports tournaments, photography, gardening and more cooking. The funding would embed a structured holiday activity programme for a complete year. Skills gained by young people will  enable them to become volunteers to hopefully support/sustain similar activity.

Wild Earth

Wild Earth will use its £10,000 grant to deliver 'Wild Tracks' with young people from Coventry, aged 15-24 years, who are experiencing low mental health and isolation. It will be delivered through a structured nature based programme that includes training in self-development, confidence building, social skills, inter-personal skills, route to employability skills, team work, communication, problem solving, taking initiative, and job skills. This will be delivered through an outdoor programme of immersive self-development and employability skills training at a local woodland site, followed by four-weeks of mentor training - delivered outdoors at our urban allotment, community centre and local woodlands for half-a-day-a-week. Along with the ten-week programme, the young people will be offered one-to-one tutorials to develop their individual learning plans, action plans, CV surgeries and job search.

Educational institution awards 

Due to the significant impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of young people, the Foundation trustees decided to focus our 2021 funding on community groups.

Existing commitments to educational institutions were honoured, but no new awards were made.