Grants of up to £1,000 available from Wiltshire Community Foundation could help boost the education prospects and life chances for young people in low-income families.
The community foundation’s Vocational Training Grants are available to anyone aged between 14 and 25 to support the costs of learning at school, college or sixth form or for training through an apprenticeship.
Sophie Sampson has the ambition to become a film editor but had to rely on sharing an old camera supplied by Swindon College for her Level 3 BTEC course in Creative Media Practice.
The 21-year-old from Draycot Foliat, Swindon, received £1,000 for a new camera, tripod and editing software. She said, “My mum is a single parent and can’t work due to her disabilities. The grant makes a lot of difference to me and I can do editing and all the other stuff I need to do for my course and then my mum doesn’t feel bad that she can’t afford the things I need to help me.”
Aimee Richards, 19, who was diagnosed with higher functioning autism when she was 13, wants to work with animals. But after achieving a Level 2 animal care course at Wiltshire College Lackham, she was unable to find work.
Her mum, Christina Smith, said, “She has been home without work and as a single parent to her it has been very hard to get her involved with any sort of work.”
But a support worker from Building Bridges – a training partnership led by Community First – found out about work placement opportunities at The Hope Nature Centre, a community farm in Trowbridge, which costs £50 a day. She helped Aimee and her mum apply for a place and a £1,000 Vocational Training Grant to cover the cost.
“The grant has been pivotal to her getting out, interacting with other people and it is doing her a world of good,” Christina continued.
Aimee now hopes to secure some paid part-time work at the centre.
Wiltshire Community Foundation joint Chief Executive Fiona Oliver said, “These grants can really open doors for young people who have the talent and determination to make the most of an opportunity they might otherwise be denied because of the cost.
“One of the symptoms of poverty is that it denies people, particularly young people, the chance to better themselves and our vocational grants can overcome that. It’s so heartwarming to hear stories like those of Aimee and Sophie and to see them making the most of their opportunities.”
The grants have been used for tools, equipment, specialist clothing or study trips in the past. Grants Manager Nicola Hillier said, “The list is by no means exhaustive and we’d love to hear from anyone who isn’t sure whether their own needs could be covered by the grant so we can discuss it. We want this programme to be as inclusive as possible.”
Applications for the grant are open now and anyone with an idea of any help or training the grants might support can contact the grants team at email@example.com. Applicants must be under 25, have lived in Wiltshire for at least two years and have one parent in receipt of one means-tested benefit.