Covid-19 Action Fund winners: children and young people
The Covid-19 Action Fund provides grants for Churchill Fellows to increase their vital contribution to the national effort against Covid-19. Hundreds of pandemic projects nationwide are being run or assisted by Churchill Fellows, using the international expertise they gained during their Fellowships overseas. Here are the Action Fund recipients working on issues relating to children and young people.
Geneva Ellis: educating children in care
Only 17% of children in care get 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, compared to 60% of all children. This drops to 4% if they live in children's homes. Additionally, care leavers are less likely to go to university, with 12% entering higher education by the age of 23 compared to 42% of the general population. With the effect of the pandemic on children's education, school closures and the introduction of remote working, children in care and care leavers are severely affected and these statistics are only likely to get worse. Geneva Ellis from Putney, London, is the Director of St Christopher's, a charity that provides homes and support for children in care. She will use her grant to provide educational support for looked after children and care leavers, across 12 homes for children and homes for care leavers across London and the West Midlands.
This will include providing students with laptops and wifi access so they can continue their schoolwork; equipping charity staff and carers with the knowledge and resource to support the young people in continued education, particularly those who were due to sit GCSEs and A-Levels this summer; and providing each young person with any additional educational support they may need. Geneva Ellis' Churchill Fellowship in 2012 explored international models of children's homes in Germany, Norway and Sweden. It was supported by The Rank Foundation.
Matt Little: training disadvantaged young people in Cornwall
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have been hit particularly hard by the current crisis. With schools closed, access to education has proved difficult for young people who don't have access to computers or remote learning equipment. Additionally, school leavers and graduates due shortly to join the labour market are the age group most exposed to a likely unemployment surge after lockdown. Matt Little from Bristol is the co-founder of the Real Ideas Organisation, a social enterprise based in the south-west of England that supports people, communities and organisations to develop the skills they need in an ever-changing world.
Matt will use his grant to launch a new scheme for disadvantaged young people in Cornwall, aged 16-24, to help engage them in social action within their community. Inspired by the Churchill Fellowship model, he will offer 10 young people "mini Fellowships" providing them with the opportunity to problem-solve and develop ideas and projects in response to the current crisis and needs of their community. Whilst benefitting Cornwall, one of the poorest regions in the UK, this scheme will also allow the young people to develop their own enterprising potential at a time of uncertainty and lack of opportunity. Matt's Churchill Fellowship to Canada and the USA explored best practice in helping young people become more social enterprising.
Temi Mwale: advocacy for young people with experience of the criminal justice system during Covid-19
Young people who have experience of violence and the criminal justice system are being disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Temi Mwale from Barnet, London, is the Director of 4Front Project, a member-led youth organisation which supports and empowers members with experience of violence and the criminal justice system to create change in their own lives, communities and society. Their 109 members, 91% of whom are BAME, have been: victims of violence (79%); affected by a friend's death (100%); permanently excluded from school (54%); reliant on two or more drugs (34%); stopped and searched (61%); detained in custody as a child (53%); incarcerated or remanded in prison (14%); labelled gang members (37%). The effects of Covid-19 (including school closures, increased police powers, bereavement, and anxiety amongst the prison population) have exacerbated the many disadvantages and problems these young people already face.
Temi will use her grant to increase her organisation's support for these young people and to raise awareness of how they are disproportionately affected by the current crisis. Enhanced support will include: increased access to legal services, ensuring they are aware of their rights, leadership training, increased advocacy for members in police stations and courts and local authority meetings, and increased support for those who are incarcerated. She will promote the work of the organisation to grow its membership across London, Manchester and prison communities, in order to help more people. Additionally, she will develop their online presence and resources, amplifying the voices of their members in order to influence public opinion and policy. Temi's Churchill Fellowship to Brazil and the USA investigated intiatives aimed at reducing youth violence.