We are a charity which runs an approved and accredited Vocational Training centre, based in Norwich, supporting young people aged between 11-18 (or up to 25 with an EHCP). Many of these have struggled in or been excluded from mainstream education. Sadly, it is an inescapable fact that many of those concerned originate from disadvantaged families, often living in poverty. Poor educational attainment and poverty tend to be a desperately common link.
The opportunities and support we provide them helps to increase their self-esteem as well as develop their employment opportunities and genuine life prospects. Currently we are accommodating the needs of 100+ students a week, and we have an extensive waiting list. The problem has increased further due to the pandemic and enforced inactivity of young people, which perhaps gives an idea of the extent of a very worrying problem.
These sometimes ‘forgotten children’ are usually marginalised, often vulnerable and can at times be exploited and coerced into criminal exploitation. Many see themselves as failures, without any academic prowess and a disengagement with society through their lack of educational achievement.
The present ‘one size fits all’ education system does not take account of mixed or lower ability children, often writing them off at an early age, in-keeping with prescribed targets and statistics. No real account is taken of those who could very successfully occupy manual or mainstream employment such as construction workers, catering workers, beauticians, and mechanics, because success cannot always be measured by examination results.
As a charity, we receive no direct statutory funding or support, which is targeted solely towards traditional mainstream and Further Education and is not designed to recognise those who struggle or lack aspiration; of which there are many.
We believe there needs to be much more emphasis on opportunities for accredited Vocational Training, where young people are given the opportunity to gain support, skills, and qualifications, to enable them to have the tools to secure realistic (yet meaningful) employment and have a more positive future.
Our aim is to ensure that EVERY CHILD, regardless of their backgrounds receives the same opportunities as those who are more academically capable. Nationally, there are over 2 million young people living in poverty and socially excluded, and so ‘The Forgotten Children’ will soon become the ‘lost generation’ if mindsets are not altered to encompass a genuine workforce for the modern era.
Sadly, the problem of vulnerable and marginalised young people constantly goes unnoticed and unsupported, and we are left struggling to raise sufficient funding to deliver adequate alternative vocational education to those young people being left behind. If we, as just one charity based in Norfolk do not pick up these young people, then who will? They may become a drain on society, instead of being able to use their talents to contribute to the rebuilding of the economy and making a difference.
Voluntary donations, however small can make a real difference to us and our work. You can donate by visiting www.paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/charity/3223483.