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Bid to boost job and exam hopes for Furness youngsters

Cumbria Community Foundation is leading an initiative to improve exam performance and job opportunities for young people in Furness.

Its research shows that one-in-four of Furness’ working-age population have no qualifications, while one-in-10 young people are unemployed.

The research also shows that the best way to change this is to get young people involved in extracurricular and enrichment activities that motivate and inspire them.

The Foundation is commissioning a report into youth provision, identifying barriers to participation and making recommendations to influence decision makers in national and local government and to pitch to potential donors, businesses and third-sector organisations.

The work is being funded by Cumbria Community Foundation, BAE Systems and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

David Beeby, Chair of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We know that, in general, students who take part in extracurricular activities achieve greater academic success, a better character and social development and greater interest in community involvement. All these improve their job prospects.

“What we’re talking about here is informal learning, doing something outside the classroom or in addition to the main lesson that enriches and inspires learning, allowing students to explore their interests.

“We are looking to appoint experts to assess current approaches, consult stakeholders, explore best practice and provide recommendations for a more effective, efficient and impactful approach to the delivery of these extracurricular activities across Low and High Furness.”

The Foundation has a budget of £35,000, including VAT, for the report, which it hopes to launch by the end of June.

Details of the brief can be viewed at here. Submissions must be received by 10am on Monday, March 18.

Janet Garner, Future Workforce Director at BAE Systems, said: “We know there is a wealth of extra-curricular activity taking place in the local area currently, with lots of organisations working hard to support young people to achieve their full life potential. We are fully supportive of the research projects aims, ensuring we understand better how we can make our collective efforts, as effective as possible, supporting the needs and aspirations of young people and the needs of the local economy also.”

The initiative follows a report, Furness Opportunities and Challenges, which the Foundation produced in 2021 highlighting the problems Furness faces.

This led to a Skills Summit involving education providers, employment support agencies, businesses and the third sector, which identified the need for a better approach to extracurricular provision.

Fundraising family reaches £50,000 target

The family of Cockermouth musician, Bridget Hilton, is marking what would have been her 80th birthday by announcing the opening of Bridget’s Magical Music Pot.

Bridget died in 2018 from a brain tumour, after a short illness. In her memory, Bridget’s family set up a legacy fund to support community music making in West Cumbria.

Bridget’s Magical Music Pot has been created with the help of Cumbria Community Foundation.

After five years of fundraising, the fund has now reached £50,000, which has been invested to grow over time. The income generated annually from the endowed fund will be used to fund music projects.

Kate Parry, Bridget’s daughter, who lives in Cockermouth, commented:

“We’re so excited to have reached our target of £50,000. It means we can now open Bridget’s Magical Music Pot to applications. To arrive at this point on what would have been my mum’s 80th birthday feels just brilliant.”

David Hilton, Bridget’s husband, added:

“Bridget loved making music. As a music teacher, she spent her life bringing people together to play and have fun. That’s what she did and that’s what we want Bridget’s Magical Music Pot to support in her memory.”

The new fund will enable us to make a small number of grant awards of up to £500 each year, to community music groups of all shapes and sizes. David explained:

“When we say group, we mean anything from two people playing ukuleles together to a full choir or brass band. We envisage funding things like sheet music, equipment, tuition costs and room hire. Anything that makes it possible for people to come together and enjoy playing together, because we know how much good that does people.”

On behalf of the family, Alison Hilton, Bridget’s daughter added:

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and fundraised to reach the £50,000 mark. People have been so generous and worked so hard to get us to this point. Even though we’ve reached our initial target, we’ll keep fundraising because the more we raise the more money we can give out in grants to people in West Cumbria.”

Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes & Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said:

“We would like to thank Bridget’s family for choosing the Foundation to manage their charitable giving in her memory. The memorial fund will continue to share Bridget’s love of music and encourage others to make music together for a long time to come. This is such a wonderful legacy for a truly remarkable and inspiring woman.”

Full details of Bridget’s Magical Music Pot can be found here.

To donate to Bridget’s Magical Music Pot, click here.

Backing West Cumbria’s young entrepreneurs

Ten young West Cumbrians are going into business thanks to an initiative from Cumbria Community Foundation and the Centre for Leadership Performance.

Positive Enterprise provides budding entrepreneurs with a £1,000 grant and support to make their business ideas a reality. It is funded by property developer Brian Scowcroft with match funding from Sellafield Ltd under its Transforming West Cumbria programme.

Seven young people took part when it began last year.

Another 10 have signed up for the 2024 scheme, launched last week at The Bus Station in Whitehaven.

David Beeby, Chair of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We set up Positive Enterprise because West Cumbria is under-represented, compared with other parts of the country, in terms of numbers of young entrepreneurs.

“We’ve got a very good crop this year, with a diverse range of businesses, and it will be exciting to see how they develop.”

Rhianna Smith, Early Careers Project Lead at the Centre for Leadership and Performance, in Cockermouth, said: “For the young people, it’s all about their development. Last year it was amazing to see the participants thrive, come out of their shells, build confidence and find something they loved doing.”

Positive Enterprise is open to anyone aged between 14 and 25 living in the former districts of Allerdale and Copeland.

As well as the grant, participants get six months’ support to include workshops, expert advice, mentoring and the opportunity to shadow local entrepreneurs.

Tracey West, Senior Social Impact Manager at Sellafield Ltd, said: “We want to encourage and support young entrepreneurs by making it easier for them to access the right advice at the right time, build a peer-led environment where they thrive alongside some financial assistance to get their business idea of the ground. I’m delighted Positive Enterprise is continuing to strengthen the growing network of young entrepreneurs in West Cumbria, by fuelling their ambition, confidence and commitment and helping them to succeed.”

This year’s Positive Enterprise participants are Isabelle Barratt, 17, of Distington; Meyrem Korkmaz, 16, of Maryport; Jasmine Riddick, 16, of Workington; Jackson Slack, 16, of Wigton; Haidee Trohear, 16, of Seascale; and Alfie Goodwin, 15, Aaron Groggins, 21, Ava Marshall, 15, Chloe Pennington, 15, and Scott Sharpe, 21, all from Whitehaven.

Their business ideas include an American-style laundromat, American candy and drinks, bespoke bouquets, pet accessories, beauty products, football coaching, artwork and personal gifts, and custom glassware.

While some are still at school, two are running their embryonic businesses while holding down full-time jobs.

Aaron Groggins, an electrical design engineer at Sellafield, will help businesses with online marketing, social media and web content.

He said: “Small businesses often can’t afford to employ someone to do this for them. My model is to help them grow a presence, develop social media channels and then leave them confident to continue the journey themselves.”

Scott Sharpe, an apprentice at Sellafield, is running a vintage clothing business.

He said: “The plan is to buy clothing from wholesalers, charity shops and car boot sales, then sell through a website and eventually get a shop.”

The launch at The Bus Station, attended by the participants and their families, heard from Millom entrepreneur Jenny Brumby who has been running businesses since she was 14 and is now a mentor for Positive Enterprise.

She advised them: “Keep it simple, do your market research, consider making your business a social enterprise to give something back, don’t fear failure, collaborate and work with each other. Most importantly, enjoy the journey.”

Also speaking was Amber Shankland who gave up her job as a wedding planner during Covid to set up a cake business, Love at First Bite, working initially from her then home in Distington. She stressed the benefits of being your own boss.

“There’s a sense of freedom in being able to pick your own ideas and work when you want,” she said.

“The good times outweigh the bad. It isn’t easy, you have to give everything to make it work, but you have that control. Try and be as unique as you can. It can be daunting but just put yourself out there.”

There was advice too from two of last year’s participants. Lennon Glass, of Cockermouth, took questions, while Luke Eilbeck, from Wigton, sent a video message telling the new intake: “Make the most of the support. I’m sure you’ll all be brilliant. I can’t wait to hear the success stories in a few months’ time.”