On 25 October 2013, LandAid was delighted to attend a charity lunch at the Prince's Trust Fairbridge Programme in Hackney to see first-hand the positive changes that funding from LandAid has brought to the centre.
Sally Robinson, Charity Administration Officer, went along and here is her report.
A crisp autumn day in Hackney and I am sat around a table of young people, eating homemade steak pie and mashed potato and discussing the latest football results.
The boy sat to my left has just finished telling me about a trip to the countryside last week, where he was able to try out archery for the first time. Another young man adds that he has recently learnt to make a healthy Pot Noodle from scratch. The girl to my right shares her recipe for today's dessert, a strawberry cheesecake.
To many of us, activities like cookery, sport and travel may seem a typical part of growing up. But in Hackney, one of the most deprived boroughs in London, there is often a lack of such opportunities. It is schemes like the Fairbridge Programme, where I have been invited for lunch today, that are reversing this trend by providing one-to-one support and group activities for young people who have become disengaged with education or employment.
The East London centre, housed in an industrial unit next to London Fields train station, is very much at the heart of the community. Youngsters on the programme are even teaching the Fairbridge staff local slang through a London Lingo mural – a humorous yet perceptive method of breaking down boundaries between generations.
LandAid first began funding the Fairbridge programme in 2008 and has continued to do so since its merger with the Prince's Trust in 2011. Young people referred to the Hackney centre attend a five-day Access Course to engage in challenging activities and experience life away from home. Once back at the centre, personal development plans are put in to action.
Thanks to a LandAid grant of £25,000 and pro bono support from Lambert Smith Hampton, the centre has recently undergone a refurbishment which will provide young people with access to new spaces and facilities including a soundproofed music studio, a modern kitchen and an ICT suite complete with interactive SMART board.
If today's visit is anything to go by, LandAid's capital support is going beyond bricks and mortar; it is providing a safe environment, a space to be heard and an opportunity to flourish. And, above all, it is investing in the future of Hackney's young people.
Sally was joined on the Fairbridge visit by Julia and Lucy of LandAid Foundation Partners Hawkins\Brown Architects, who work with The Prince's Trust providing professional support to help refurbish and deliver their centres.
If you are interested in attending a charity visit with LandAid, please get in touch.