The latest from the Black Country 

Young People in the Midlands to Benefit from £135,000 of National Express Foundation Funding

The National Express Foundation, a charity set up in 2012 to help disadvantaged young people, has announced which local community groups and universities will receive £135,000 of its funding.

The Foundation has awarded £35,000 to help 12 West Midlands community groups with projects to support local young people over the next 12 months.

For the first time the charity has pledged to support one Darlaston-based group with a £5,000 grant for the next three years.

Three universities in the Midlands will use a share of the funding to deliver three-year annual bursaries of £10,000 to help nearly 250 disadvantaged local young students continue their studies.

Over the course of the three year funding pledge, totalling £135,000, it is estimated that over 1,000 local young people will benefit as a direct result of Foundation funding.

Three Black Country community groups and a local university will receive a total of £12,500 this year, with Heart and Soul Community CIC using their funding to provide skills training which will help local young people go on to apprenticeships and employment within the construction industry.

Gatis Community Space will use their funding to deliver woodwork workshops to help build skills and provide out of hours activities for young people.

Maria Billington from Gatis Community Space said:

“We are really pleased to hear our project has been successful in getting funding from the National Express Foundation. It has come at just the right time for us to enable us to engage with hard to reach young people in our community and to help support our volunteers in exploring self-employment avenues.

“We have an ethos of people supporting people and we can only do that by truly engaging with our local community. Projects like this are vital in making in-roads to our younger generations so we can learn to listen to their needs as well as given them new life skills and help them reach their true potential.”

Olio Hub has been supported by the Foundation since 2013. The growing community group has previously used Foundation funding to deliver a series of activities to engage local young people, including the transformation of an overgrown yard into an outdoor play area, a fitness room which is used by youngsters and other local community groups, and specialist music equipment to enable 8-25 year olds to learn about and take part in sound engineering, tuition and recording all in one place.

This year, the National Express Foundation has pledged to give Olio Hub £5,000 of funding for the next three years to help the group deliver even more positive and engaging activities for young people in Darlaston and the surrounding area.

Sandra Adams from Olio Hub said:

“We are absolutely thrilled that the Foundation has pledged funding for Olio Hub for the next three years. It will enable us to introduce new activities and engage even more young people in the area of Darlaston.”

The University of Wolverhampton will receive an annual three-year bursary of £10,000 to help estranged students who have no support from or have been estranged from their families. For each student that receives a bursary, the university will match the amount and continue to support those students with a further £1,000 bursary per year for the duration of their studies.

Jon Elsmore, Dean of Students at the University of Wolverhampton said:
“We’re really pleased to have been awarded a £30,000 bursary over the next three years from the National Express Foundation. This additional grant will be used to assist 60 first year estranged students who have no support from, or have been disowned by their family – especially those who experience more severe financial and emotional difficulties than other students.
“We know a modest amount of financial help can make a huge difference to people, enabling them to progress their studies and further their ambitions. The university has agreed to match this funding during the students’ first year and we will continue to offer financial support throughout the duration of their course.”
Aston University and Birmingham City University will also receive annual bursaries of £10,000 each.

Anthony Vigor, Chairman of the National Express Foundation said:

“We are delighted to announce the National Express Foundation funding awards for 2016. Our funding for the 12 successful community groups and three universities in the West Midlands will help deliver even more positive and engaging activities for local young people and also help those who might not otherwise be able to continue with their studies in higher education.

“Since our launch in 2012 we have already helped over 8,000 local young people and with the latest round of funding awards we will be able to support over 1,000 more. We are looking forward to getting involved in the delivery of this year’s projects and really seeing how it helps our local young people progress in life.”

Other West Midlands groups to benefit from the remainder of this year’s funding awards are:

  • Balsall Heath CATS
  • Gospel Oak Community Centre
  • Hall Green Youth
  • Handsworth Wood Youth Group
  • Our Place Community CIC
  • Saathi House
  • St Basils
  • This Way UP
  • Worth Unlimited

For full details of funding awards and the projects that it will help to deliver please visit

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 09:36

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