AROUND 35 young people, who would otherwise not secure qualifications at school, will receive specialist educational and personal support thanks to a grant of £40,000 from Surrey Freemasons to the Surrey Care Trust.
Surrey Care Trust’s ‘STEPS to 16’ project provides an essential opportunity to young people aged 14-16 who are falling out of mainstream education. Facing many different barriers to school, ranging from emotional and mental health crises to additional learning needs, from family disadvantage to personal trauma, many of Surrey’s vulnerable young people are experiencing significant setbacks on the cusp of entering adulthood.
In addition to teaching English and Maths qualifications, and making sixth-form colleges and the workplace accessible to disadvantaged young people, ‘STEPS to 16’ also teaches personalised courses in life skills such as Cookery, Computer Literacy, Preparation for Work, and Law and Order. The curriculum ensures that STEPS students’ vulnerabilities and disadvantages are tackled directly, no matter the problems in each young person’s past.
Across the UK, students from vulnerable backgrounds are four times more likely than their peers to be expelled from mainstream schools, and annually 78 per cent of expelled pupils have special educational needs, are eligible for free school meals, or are otherwise recognised to be ‘in need’.
Based in Surrey, Care Trust’s dedicated Woking Learning Centre ‘STEPS to 16’, integrates academic lessons and Life Skills training into a school day, while also delivering enrichment activities and close personal support to each young person.
‘STEPS to 16’ is the only project of its kind in Surrey. Surrey Care Trust’s diverse range of holistic long-term support services ensures that every student will receive the support they need, whether that is further mental health support (i.e. counselling), family mentoring or employment advice.
The Freemasons’ grant to ‘STEPS to 16’ will not only directly support students but will also benefit their families and peers. This intervention reduces the need for further employment, mental health or personal support that might otherwise have been needed in the future, and helps to build a resilient community across Surrey that includes people who otherwise would have been left behind.
Demand for Surrey Care Trust’s services increased substantially during and after the pandemic, and the needs of the charity’s beneficiaries have multiplied and increased. On average, each of the charity’s beneficiaries now needs support for distinct issues, incorporating struggles with mental health and wellbeing, employment or education, personal skills, and family relationships. Projects that integrate multiple forms of support into one holistic package, such as ‘STEPS to 16’, are truly key to transforming vulnerable lives.
The grant from Surrey Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation which is funded by Freemasons their families and friends from across England and Wales.
John Downing CEO of Surrey Care Trust said:
‘’We’re very grateful to Surrey Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to continue supporting vulnerable young people with their education, as well as their family members. There are many more young people and their families who could benefit from our support and this grant will help us to do just that.”
Ian Chandler, Head of Surrey Freemasons, also said:
“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help the Surrey Care Trust with their excellent programme to support young people who are struggling at school. They only have one chance at an education and ‘STEPS to 16’ can help them transform their lives.”