Throwback Thirty: Celebrating 30 Years of Grant-Giving

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Anniversaries are special because they give you a chance to review, reflect and reminisce all that has been achieved whilst enjoying a metaphorical ‘pat on the back’.

To go back 30 years, John Lyon’s Charity was established in 1991 as a grant-giver to help children and young people within North and West London. Since then, we have supported over 1,730 organisations and have given over £156million in grants. Throughout 2021 we are going to be celebrating 30 of the organisations, initiatives and projects we have funded and look at the way they have evolved, grown and enhanced the lives of thousands of children and young people within the Beneficial Area.

14. Strength and Learning Through Horses: why therapists don’t have to be human

Since 1991, John Lyon’s Charity has supported high quality, children and young people centred initiatives that seek to help those most in need. Good emotional health and wellbeing are key factors in the successful development of children and young people and the Charity has seen a steady increase in Emotional Wellbeing grants over the years.

An exceptional example of emotional wellbeing initiatives is the inspiring Strength and Learning Through Horses (SLTH). This organisation works with many young people who serve to illustrate clearly why the support that Strength and Learning Through Horses is able to offer, is so vital.
Based in North London, Strength and Learning Through Horses runs alternative education and equine therapy programmes, helping vulnerable young people to develop vital life skills through engaging with horses on their programmes. The programmes use horse therapy and equine assisted learning to equip participants with the skills and self-belief that they require to re-engage with education or employment. The young people and families that SLTH supports have been unable to engage with therapists or professionals in a more conventional way and this alternative approach equips them to manage their behaviour and to avert mental health problems later in life.

Dr Jemma Hockley, Clinical Psychologist, CEO & Therapy Programme Director of Strength and Learning Through Horses said:This project is not about horse riding; equine therapy provides young people with the tools to develop their awareness of appropriate social and emotional health and behaviour and help them address their own mental health needs. Horses make powerful therapists and teachers. As herd animals, horses rely on their ability to forge strong relationships with one another for survival, which makes them incredibly socially sensitive. 99% of equine communication is through body language which means that horses immediately pick up on changes in mental state by sensing minute changes in body language. As a result, horses can help young people struggling with behavioural and mental health problems to learn and develop vital life skills.”

John Lyon’s Charity has been supporting the organisation since 2014, having awarded over £340,000 in funding. Now, more than 400 young people attend SLTH programmes each year, benefitting from increased confidence, teamwork and leadership skills, improved time management, raised aspirations for future work and increased engagement with education or employment.

Jemma continues:JLC was with us in our inception when we were known as Strength in Horses and only offering therapy. Now we offer a therapy and educational programme, which JLC continued to fund and fully support whilst we made the transition into Strength and Learning Through Horses. We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from JLC, especially during Covid-19 where it was an essential need that young people receive emotional and mental health support. We couldn’t have continued to deliver or be where we are today without the funding from John Lyon’s Charity.”

Due to SLTH’s continued success, it will be moving to a brand-new site in the New Year with plans to develop a purpose-built facility so that they can further increase their capacity in response to need. This will allow SLTH to be more creative with their delivery going forward, with the end goal ensuring access for as many young people and communities in need of equine therapy as possible. If you would like to learn more about JLC’s Emotional Wellbeing Programme Area, please click here.

13. Beauchamp Lodge Settlement – The Floating Classroom: keeping education afloat

Since 1991, education has been at the heart of the work of John Lyon’s Charity. Organisations that aspire to provide opportunities for children and young people across the Beneficial Area have been of interest, even if it meant taking education off dry land.

The Beauchamp Lodge Settlement (BLS) is a small charity that has worked with communities in North Westminster since 1938. Its mission is to help people from a diverse range of backgrounds achieve their full potential by providing transformational learning experiences that broaden horizons and build confidence. Today, BLS provides imaginative, engaging and fun learning experiences inspired by the locations in which they take place – London’s waterways and green spaces.

In the early 2000s, BLS took the decision to focus all of its energies and creativity on an even more exciting and innovative project, which became known as the Floating Classroom. The programme embodies BLS’s commitment to hands-on learning; bringing topics to life through activities which are inclusive, immersive and, critically, fun. The Floating Classroom works predominantly with schools in John Lyon’s Charity’s Beneficial Area, including Westminster, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

The majority of the schools that visit the Floating Classroom have very high proportions of pupils living in socio-economic deprivation. In Westminster, 46.2% of children live in poverty after housing costs [1] . Private rent for low earners and income inequality are both very high in the borough, with only the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea performing worse on both these indicators in London [2] . 14% of Westminster neighbourhoods are in severe deprivation which is defined as being in the top 10% of deprived neighbourhoods in the country [3]. The Floating Classroom enables children living in this context to access enriching experiences that would otherwise not be available to them.

Simon Ryder, CEO of the Floating Classroom commented: “When canvassing teachers on their considerations for out of classroom learning, we found a consensus that trips should address core curriculum requirements while offering experiences that schools are unable to provide or would not normally have access to. The children we work with are also deprived in terms of access to nature; to the nurturing and enriching experiences provided by waterways and green spaces. Access and proximity to green space are unequally distributed across the population. The most affluent 20% of wards in England have five times the amount of green space compared to the most deprived 10% of wards.

John Lyon’s Charity was one of BLS’s original Funders, with its first grant awarded by the Charity in 2001. Simon Ryder continues:This was an important vote of confidence in an exciting, innovative and ambitious new learning project in London and as such was crucial in establishing the boat as a unique venue for outdoors education in the city. The funding allowed the project to promote inclusion of all children, especially those with learning and physical disabilities, behavioural problems, refugees and those excluded from mainstream education. The relationship with the Charity has gone from strength to strength with multiple grants awarded since 2001.

Since its launch in October 2001, BLS has welcomed on board around 42,000 pupils from schools in 18 of the 32 London boroughs, to take part in learning activities. They have made ice-cream Victorian-style in the Canal Museum at King’s Cross, worked the locks at Camden Market, grilled executives in the offices at Paddington Central, planted beans and cooked pizza in Meanwhile Gardens and built dens from branches and twine in Wormwood Scrubs Park.

John Lyon’s Charity is incredibly proud to have supported Beauchamp Lodge Settlement and The Floating Classroom since 2001, demonstrating that education doesn’t always have to take place in a classroom.

[1] End Child Poverty, 2019
[2] Trust for London, 2019
[3] Understanding Social Needs in Westminster – NPC Think Tank October 2012

12. Shepherds Bush Families Project – bringing families closer together

John Lyon’s Charity supports a wide variety of projects that exist to develop parenting skills, provide support to those in the greatest of need and to prevent families from reaching crisis point. Family life is not easy and even the most secure environments can be fragile and crack if exposed to certain pressures, such as relationship breakdown, bereavement, domestic abuse or economic difficulties.

Shepherds Bush Families Project (SBFP) is part of the Family Support group of centres, an independent charity that offers community-based services to assist and support parents in their role as caregivers. The project has been at the heart of the local community of Shepherds Bush since 1988. The project began in a local Baptist church hall with the vision of running advice and advocacy services for parents, as well as daily drop-in sessions for parents and children, in order to help families who are homeless, have other unmet housing needs and/or suffer social and economic hardship.

Children and young people living in poor housing often miss out on the givens of family life and can react negatively to the stigma attached to poor housing. Young people living in overcrowded accommodation may lack the physical and emotional space to complete homework or course work and SBFP offers children and young people a safe space to complete schoolwork, get help from staff who have teaching backgrounds and those with skills in other areas.

Shepherds Bush Families Project has received funding from John Lyon’s Charity since 2003. The Charity has awarded Shepherds Bush Families Project £299,000 in grants, supporting projects such as its After School Club and its holiday provision. These are increasingly popular and vital services which are relied on by 100 families each year. After school sessions provide an opportunity for young people to play games, try out different forms of art and complete homework in a safe and friendly space. Having the space and resources to complete homework is particularly important for children facing housing difficulties and enables parents to engage in their child’s learning and play. The contribution from John Lyon’s Charity has been vital in enabling the project to continue to meet the needs of families.

Tina Mayers, CEO of Shepherds Bush Families Project said:Funding from JLC has been vital for many of the children and young people we work with. As we have been able to offer a free service to families, no child or young person has been excluded due to financial constraints. Many of the children and young people have had opportunities to take part in activities that would normally have been denied to them. As a result, these young people have made and built friendships that have gone beyond the life of SBFP and given them the opportunity to increase their circle of friends. This has also led to families being able to offer mutual support to each other. This was so vital during the pandemic and various lockdowns, as families, who have little support were encouraged to form support bubbles to help each other.”

Over the last 33 years, SBFP’s services have expanded and developed organically in response to emerging and developing needs. This has been undertaken in consultation with their families and with other relevant agencies and community groups in the area.

John Lyon’s Charity seeks to help parents give their children the best start in life by supporting a variety of projects that help develop parenting skills and support those in need. To find out more about our Children and Families Programme Area, please click here.

11. Harrow Carers – showing young carers how to be young children

What is a carer? The NHS defines a carer as someone who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. 

A carer can be anyone.  A carer can be a child or young person.

Harrow Carers was set up in 1996 in response to changes in legislation in 1995 under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995. This was when carers were first formally recognised as having their own rights to support in UK law. The initial vision of Harrow Carers was to identify and offer advice and support to all unpaid carers in the London Borough of Harrow.

It is now the borough’s leading organisation for all carers and supports nearly 4,000 people annually, providing high quality support, advocacy, information, counselling and activities regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Young carers are often isolated or lonely, have a lower level of educational attainment, find it hard to establish relationships with peers and need support to carry out their caring roles. Harrow Carers is a vital organisation in the Harrow community, seeking to ensure that these young people still experience the childhood they deserve.

Charmian Boyd, Chief Executive Officer of Harrow Carers said: “We support children and young people through a range of activities: one to one support, helping them understand their caring roles, providing them with life skills, enhancing their education, enabling them to get peer support and establish friendships, counselling, arranging assessments and other practical support. Unlike other target youth support interventions we recognise that being a young carer is often a life term journey. It is not a phase or behaviour or Trauma that can be responded to in a short-term piece of work. A child growing up in poverty can, through education and opportunity, become an adult living in prosperity.

A key part of the work is helping young people learn how to create peer support networks to manage their wellbeing. Harrow Carers is a service designed to walk and support a young person through the changes and challenges of being a carer, from childhood to late adulthood.

John Lyon’s Charity (JLC) has supported Harrow Carers since 2002 and awarded over £259,000 in funding. This funding has gone towards the salary of a Young Carer’s Manager, which has been instrumental to the organisation’s growth. Funding has also contributed to a variety of trips and experiences during the school holidays to remind young carers how to be young and carefree whilst experiencing the opportunities all children and young people should growing up.

Charmian Boyd continues:John Lyon’s Charity has been one of the key funders to help Harrow Carers as a service get to where it is today. In the last 10 years we have provided support to over 650 unique young carers living in, or attending education, in Harrow through 936 activities. The funding has supported over 650 young carers to have respite from their caring role by participating in enriching holidays over this time. There have also been opportunities for young carers to go on sailing trips, become NHS ambassadors, take part in a European trial into managing emotional health in young carers and much, much more.”

Going forward, the goal for Harrow Carers is to continue to be a stable presence for young carers and young adult carers in, or attending education, in Harrow. The agenda has, and always will be, to support them to overcome the impacts of caring and to have fruitful and successful lives. John Lyon’s Charity is proud to support such an essential service within the heart of its Beneficial Area.

10. A.P.P.L.E (Acton Play Projects & Leisure Events) – all are welcome

In 1996, a group of Ealing based parents with young children (many of whom worked in Children’s, Youth and Education services) identified a gap and a need for a safe space within the Ealing community. What began as a simple idea, quickly evolved into serious discussions, a strategic approach to run a centre focussing on children and young people in a block of converted toilets in Acton Park. It was here: Acton Play Projects & Leisure Events (A.P.P.L.E) was born. Its core purpose is to support children and young people and their families by providing free, open access recreational, educational and creative activities out of school hours.

A.P.P.L.E delivers high quality, open access play activities for children aged 8-18 years of age. It is a vital local community resource, serving an area severely under-served for youth activities. A.P.P.L.E works hard to create a safe space to give young people life and work skills, greater confidence and resourcefulness.

Acton has areas of deprivation amidst areas of rising affluence. In local schools, such as East Acton Primary School, 36% of their students are registered for free school meals, higher than the national average. While these young people are at A.P.P.L.E they have access to a calm, safe, positive environment in which they can begin to make positive choices for themselves. A.P.P.L.E’s goal is to support children and young people who are living in disadvantaged circumstances or are experiencing difficulties in their lives.

A.P.P.L.E has been supported by John Lyon’s Charity (JLC) since 1998 and have been awarded over £763,200 in funding. It is an engaged member of the John Lyon community and regularly applies for the School Holiday Activity Fund to support its holiday provision; it is also a member of the Young Ealing Foundation.

Vicki Barker, Co-founder and Project Coordinator at A.P.P.L.E. said: “JLC came and visited the ARTBLOCK shortly after we had moved in. It was freezing cold. We had no heating, no proper doors, and the place was very, very basic. But it was full of art and looked as it does today – a place that belongs to children and young people. A glorified den.”

Vicki continues:Our first grant from John Lyon’s Charity put us properly on the road. At the time we were offering individual projects, we were not able to sustain regular opening times or a complete joined up programme. The aim was always to offer a year-round programme with set days and times where people could count on us being open. The continuing support from JLC has enabled us to fulfil that aim. There would be no A.P.P.L.E without John Lyon’s Charity – it has provided the central structure from which we have been able to grow all that we do.”

Going forward, A.P.P.L.E will continue to provide a space for children and young people, that they feel is theirs, is safe, structured, dependable and providing the things they want; something to eat, a place to socialise with friends, and taking part in interesting, exciting, fun things to do. Somewhere they can access emotional and social support.

If you would like to find out more about JLC’s School Holiday Activity Fund, please click here.

9. Brent Centre for Young People – providing emotional and therapeutic support to young people

John Lyon’s Charity (JLC) has always valued the work of organisations supporting children and young people with their mental health, awarding 219 grants totalling over £12M since 1991. 

The Brent Centre for Young People(BCYP) is the leading mental health charity for young people in North West London and one of the groups known to the Charity the longest. Since 1994 John Lyon’s Charity has awarded over £1.2million in funding to help support BCYP’s mission to improve young people’s lives through specialised treatment in the areas of suicide prevention, self-harm, eating disorders, and more.

Since its creation, the BCYP has cemented itself as the leading provider of therapy services in the community. Its clinicians have developed talking therapies which are unique to the Centre, including Adolescent Exploratory Therapy (a talking therapy geared specifically to teens), Group Therapy for Young Offenders, and Sport & Thought, (a unique program using football exercises to provide group therapy to young people who have difficulty engaging with any mental health support). Currently the Centre predominantly reaches young people through 13 schools, the Youth Offending Service (YOS), in-house at the main site in North West London, and through other local projects.

Since the Centre secured its first grant (£30,000) from the Charity in 1994, funding has provided much-needed resources to build work the of the Centre and created a sense of financial stability across all of the Brent Centre’s services. It has also helped to raise the Centre’s credibility with new funders and, consequently, helped them raise additional resources to expand their reach to more young people.

JLC’s core funding to BCYP helps 150-200 young people each year and has also played a major role in expanding the Centre’s schools program deeper into Brent and additionally into Ealing. During the pandemic alone, JLC provided £40,000 in emergency funding that allowed BCYP to enhance their intervention in schools, and create a more supportive counselling service for pupils.

Much of our successes in reaching more young people in North London over the past 25 years, through a range of therapies, has been founded on JLC’s dedication to our mission”, said Dr Maxim de Sauma, BCYP Chief Executive Officer and Clinical Director. “Thanks to JLC’s support, our patients have accessed a safe space for quality therapy to work through their challenges and find a way to move forward. For this, we are tremendously grateful for working together.”

The Centre’s primary goal moving forward is to expand specialist mental health services into neighbouring boroughs. The key next steps are to set up a second clinic in Westminster, which builds on the long-standing working relationship with the Institute of Psychoanalysis and commitment to develop BCYP’s training and research in child psychoanalysis. There are also plans to introduce individual packages of BCYP’s services to neighbouring boroughs based on respective demand.

BCYP share the same vision as JLC, with a core mission to provide support and opportunities to young people, and to help young people address their difficulties at an early stage so that they can become healthier, happier adults. We are very proud to have supported Brent Centre for Young People and to have maintained a strong partnership after all these years.

8. icandance: a community where anyone can dance

John Lyon’s Charity (JLC) prides itself on supporting organisations that provide opportunities for children and young people with special needs and disabilities to have the same experiences as their peers. Any person should have the same experience as another and a prime example of this is the creative, inspiring and inclusive charity – icandance.

icandance was founded by Juliet Diener with the vision to celebrate children and young people with disabilities and to help find opportunities for them to thrive, particularly through dance. The charity’s name ‘icandance’ was chosen to inspire and remind anyone doubting themselves that they can do anything regardless of disability. Its work focuses not only on the needs of the children and young people but also their families, creating a community which makes no one want leave. This inclusive charity has been so successful that alumni’s come back to volunteer, continuing to thrive in a place where they are accepted for who they are and not defined or judged by their disability.

icandance offers community group dance sessions each week as well as at schools and in various settings for those with disabilities and their families. They also offer individual dance movement psychotherapy sessions, Parent therapy groups, a youth dance company and a young ambassadors group to develop the skills of young leaders in the community. These sessions offer individuals, siblings and parent’s opportunities to explore the challenges of living with a disability in a creative, embodied way. Sessions are led by skilled practitioners working towards developing a creative, therapeutic relationship to support wellbeing.

Juliet Diener, Founder of icandance

Juliet Diener, Founder of icandance saidThe beauty of dance is that it’s accessible. Anyone can dance! It allows young people to express themselves who perhaps don’t have language to be able to relate, explore relationships, move and create, allowing them to have a voice through movement. That’s the beauty of it.”

Since 1991, JLC’s mission has been to transform the lives of children and young people by creating opportunities to learn, grow and develop through education. The focus of the Charity’s funding has been on projects that support all children and young people so that they all have the same opportunities. JLC has supported icandance’s mission since 2011. Juliet continues:John Lyon’s Charity has been part of icandance’s ecosystem for years. We are true partners in this entire process. What’s really important for me is having a Funder who is walking the journey with icandance as we evolve, change and shape our community. JLC has been instrumental to the growth of icandance through always supporting, valuing and applauding everything we do.”

Looking to the future, icandance is hoping to create a young people’s programme where the children and young people become young dance leaders with the end goal to work at icandance and beyond. Believing in the power of dance and its ability to promote wellbeing, John Lyon’s Charity is confident icandance will achieve its goal. John Lyon’s Charity has also undertaken research to understand best practice for working with disabled young people and next steps for the sector from the perspectives of Arts organisations, special schools, funders, music hubs and services. See our Change of Perspectives Report here.

 7. MAMA Youth Project: creating opportunities that change life prospects

John Lyon’s Charity is committed to ensuring educational opportunities are accessible for all young people in our Beneficial Area, as well as helping sectors to become representative of the abundance and diversity of young talent in London. With the Charity’s help, many youth clubs throughout the nine boroughs in the Beneficial Area are thriving and delivering high quality, innovative youth work to vast numbers of young people, providing opportunities they may not normally receive.

An example of this is MAMA Youth Project, a youth project that seeks to address the lack of diversity and entrance routes into the media industry by offering real-time media production training and career pathways for young people from underrepresented backgrounds. The core inspiration behind MAMA Youth Project is Founder and CEO, Bob Clarke. Growing up, Bob came from a challenging background where opportunities didn’t always come easy. He had a difficult time in school with several of his teachers telling him he would never make anything of himself. However, despite the lack of support growing up, Bob was given the opportunity to work in media/television as a trainee video tape operator and quickly climbed the ladder to television editor. This experience resulted in Bob running his own independent editing company and starting a television production company shortly after.

Bob Clarke says:I realised what people like me brought to the workplace and that we can do well despite the odds. I started MAMA Youth Project to help working class people from challenging backgrounds start a career in an industry that can change their life prospects”.

Recognising the potential of MAMA Youth, in 2009 John Lyon’s Charity funded its first major grant and has since awarded five further grants, totalling £307,000 to date. Through this funding, MAMA Youth has developed crucial partnerships with media giants including Sky (on whose campus it is based), the BBC and Endemol Shine Group, which opens doors and incredible career opportunities for its participants.

Bob continuesJLC was the first Trust to give a grant to MAMA Youth Project which was in 2009. JLC took time to visit us and observe what I was doing with young people. With the grant that was awarded, came support and advice and it felt like JLC was a partner rather than a grant giver. The grant was for me to pay an administrative person who could work in the office to support me. I was still working nights at Sky Sports, but it meant the office was covered during normal office hours. Having our first member of staff was vital and it allowed us to become more organised and develop the charity. JLC continues to be a great supporter to MAMA Youth Project. The strategy that JLC use for supporting a charity, then having a break to see a charity survive and progress without them and then have the foresight to support a charity with its next stage of growth has worked brilliantly with us. JLC is still the only Trust that fully understands what we are about.

MAMA Youth Project has spent the last ten years training young people from under-represented backgrounds to succeed in the media industry. To date, the charity has changed the lives of over 550 young people who now have a career and a chance of a better life. With the support of this invaluable youth club, MAMA Youth Project’s services have broken negative cycle in families, provided long term life and career support and have offered opportunities that these young people potentially could never have expected. John Lyon’s Charity is incredibly proud to support MAMA Youth Project as it shares the same mission to create opportunities to help transform the lives of children and young people.

6.Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre – never judge a book by its cover

Since 1992, John Lyon’s Charity has awarded over £21 million to support youth clubs and facilities across its Beneficial Area, providing recreational safe-spaces for young people of all ages to build relationships, learn essential life-skills and, importantly, have fun with their friends. The Charity focused on this area because it is vital that children and young people have access to a safe space or community they can rely on for support, as they may not have this at home or in school.

One youth club we are particularly proud of is Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre (SLYC), based in Camden. Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre was established in 1969 and is located at the heart of the Regent’s Park estate where it serves the whole of the West Euston area. After extensive fundraising (including £70,000 from John Lyon’s Charity), a brand new centre was inaugurated in January 2010.

John Lyon ‘s Charity recognised that SLYC was a necessity within the community and that it was imperative for children and young people in Camden to have access to a safe space it just needed financial support to keep its pillars standing. It was at this point we knew we had to help and SLYC was awarded first grant from the Charity in 1994. Since then, the relationship has gone from strength to strength with a total grant spend of over £420,000 toward bringing SLYC back to life. Funding has gone toward centre repairs , a full-time member of staff, sports equipment and anything else vital to keep the youth centre functioning and thriving.

Since its refurbishment, Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre has had a profound impact on the Regent’s Park area, one of the most disadvantaged in Camden. The Youth Club is always buzzing with young people attending a variety of activities throughout the day. SLYC has latterly gone on to become the first youth club in London to achieve the London Youth Gold Standard Quality Mark, which is a badge of excellence for youth organisations that are committed to continuous improvement through the involvement of young people in their organisational development. As a result, SLYC is frequently held up as an example of good quality youth work, attracting study visits from across the country. SLYC has consolidated its place as the main hub for youth and community activities in the Euston area and integrated the formerly polarised Bengali and White communities. 1000 young people from the local area benefit from their services seven days a week.

Paulo Pires, Centre Manager of Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre says –Our main services target disadvantaged young people aged 8 – 19 through four different youth projects, but alongside those strands we also offer supporting activities to parents, the unemployed, BAME groups, women, the disabled and senior citizens. If it were not for funding from JLC and their belief in this youth club, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. SLYC has consolidated its place as the major hub for youth and community activities in the West Euston area and has thus consistently contributed to improving the lives of not only young people but also of the wider community. We are very proud of everything we have achieved but it wouldn’t have happened without the support from John Lyon’s Charity”.

This success story goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. Yes, the SLYC was in need of significant repair and refurbishment, but it was the passion of Paulo and the Camden community that kept the building standing and why it still stands today. With the Charity’s help, we are proud that many youth clubs throughout the nine boroughs in the Beneficial Area, including SLYC, are thriving and delivering high quality, innovative youth work to vast numbers of young people. To find out more about John Lyon’s Charity’s Youth Clubs programme, please click here.

5. Royal Albert Hall – Making music across the Beneficial Area

For almost two decades, John Lyon’s Charity has had a longstanding relationship with the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) and witnessed success after success through the projects we’ve funded.

Engagement is central to the Hall’s mission, reaching out to children, teachers, young people, families and community groups and impacting c200,000 people each year. In November 2019, we awarded a very special grant to RAH to enable their flagship 150th anniversary project to take place, with the idea of community at its heart.

This project is designed to celebrate the work that RAH’s Engagement programme delivers. It comprises of a major composition project, targeted at young people who have demonstrated a high level of musical ability culminating in a celebratory performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 29th March 2021, the exact date of the Hall’s 150th anniversary. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event could not go ahead as scheduled in March, but we are absolutely delighted that this flagship performance is now scheduled to take place on 19 July 2021.

Students from six schools across the Tri-Borough have worked alongside David Arnold, the internationally famous, Grammy winning composer (Casino Royale and London Olympics Opening Ceremony) and James Moriarty, an experienced workshop leader, to contribute towards a composition taking ten major events in the history of the RAH as inspiration. A choir made of young people engaged through the Tri-borough Music Hub, plus groups of singers from local secondary schools have been rehearsing with tutors and singers from the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and professional musicians from RAH’s in-house band, Albert’s Band. In addition, SEND students from schools across the Tri-Borough area will be involved in a series of workshops focussing on the different vocational opportunities within the Arts. Students will be involved with areas such as ticketing, box office, marketing, programme design, event management and front of house.

This work is hugely important to the Hall, as they strive to uphold the founding principles of Prince Albert in promoting the arts and sciences and enabling access for everyone. Without our grant they would not be able to be so ambitious with their plans and impact as many people in the local community. It is hoped that following this experience, further learning and work experience opportunities will be developed with these students at RAH. This project provides a hands-on opportunity for young people to gain music-making and compositional skills, working alongside a world-class composer and within an internationally famous venue. This opportunity is not available to them anywhere else and for those who would most benefit from this type of education, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Coming hot off the heels of an extended period of lockdowns, where cultural engagement for all has been very limited, this really will be an experience not easily forgotten.

Cultural Capital Fund - Arts OrganisationsHowever, this is not the only project we are proud to be a part of. In 2019, John Lyon’s Charity supported an exciting new piece entitled ‘Convo’ by rising London-based composer and Royal College of Music graduate, Charlotte Harding. Thanks to our core funding, this ambitious project saw young musicians from schools across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster work together on a world premiere which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall. This musical journey was such a success that Charlotte Harding went on to win an Ivor Composers Award for this incredible composition within the ‘Community or Educational Project’ category.

Flo Schroeder, Senior Programming and Engagement Manager at the Royal Albert Hall says “Funding from JLC has been fundamental to helping us achieve our mission to reach as many people as possible. JLC’s financial support has enabled us to deliver a wide variety of high quality projects over many years which are designed to have a lasting impact on those involved. We have a responsibility to make a positive impact on our local community, and we want children and young people to be part of the story of the Royal Albert Hall. It is important to us that our anniversary celebrations are inclusive and outward-looking, reflecting our reputation as ‘the Nation’s village hall’.

RAH is committed to giving back to our local community and have worked with local borough councils across our Beneficial Area for many years. Our relationship evolved due to our joint mission to help build positive communities. Flo adds “it has been our hope over this time to provide life-enriching opportunities for young people to engage with the Royal Albert Hall when they otherwise not be able to have done. The first scheme that JLC supported back in 2005 was a Young Person’s ticket scheme to encourage new audiences, and our commitment to providing access to the Hall for everyone is still at the heart of what we do. Since then, the partnership has grown and grown”.

As an independent charity that receives no recurrent government funding, the Hall relies on the generosity of Seat holders, Friends, Patrons, Trusts and Major Donors to continue changing lives through the power of music and we could not be more thrilled to contribute to this auspicious event. To find out more about the Royal Albert Hall, please click here.

4. Historic Royal Palaces: Bringing community together through culture

The Charity’s Beneficial Area contains an extraordinary number of world class Arts venues and establishments and we work with these institutions to find strategies and develop engagement activities that target schools, young people and their families to help them take an active role in these Arts venues that are on their doorstep. We have seen first-hand the positive impact art and culture has on children and young people and our next Throwback Thirty celebrates the importance of these types of institutions.

Back in 2009 we were contacted by the team at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), when they were planning their first schools service to operate from Kensington Palace. Their ambition was to create a programme that would reach schools that don’t always take advantage of the great cultural offer on their doorsteps in the borough of Kensington. Taking our usual approach of working alongside organisations to create the best applications, we had a wide-ranging conversation about HRP’s education and outreach programmes. It was immediately made clear that HRP’s ethos, methodology and approach to wider learning could be extremely beneficial to the children and young people in the Charity’s Beneficial Area. This was the beginning of a relationship that was to see John Lyon’s Charity, and the funding that Kensington Palace secured from us, play a vital role in the shape and direction of their future learning and education programmes.

In 2010-12, HRP embarked on an ambitious re-presentation of Kensington Palace. Prior to this project Kensington Palace struggled to attract many visitors and very few school, community or family groups visited. As part of the re-presentation project an organisational objective was to grow HRP’s school, community and family audiences within the neighbouring Kensington area.

Kensington Palace,Robin Forster,The East Front. The statue of Queen Victoria, by her daughter Princess Louise, was installed here in 1893

Using the hugely popular and well-established Palace Explorers programme delivered at the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace , in 2010 John Lyon’s Charity awarded HRP a grant of £25,000 per annum for three years to establish Palace Explorers at Kensington Palace with a remit to target schools in Kensington & Chelsea. During the project, many approaches and techniques were trialled to engage children in the history of the Palace such as story building and storytelling, art and design, role-play and drama and object handling. The sessions happened both onsite at the Palace as well as in schools themselves and were supported by a range of digital and print resources. This ensured that relationships with schools, communities and individual families became established. The resources produced were distributed widely via local and national partners ensuring many more schools and families benefitted from the projects.

Crucially, the project culmination was to be scheduled on a Saturday to encourage children to return to the Palace with their families and act as a guide. Encouraging family participation at events after in-school learning activities have taken place is incredibly difficult to achieve and in the Charity’s experience funding provided for past projects in different institutions that sought to achieve this had seen limited success. Over the three years, over 1,000 children participated in the Palace Explorers project, and around half of those children returned to the Palace at some stage with their families, an incredible achievement.

In 2013, studies revealed that the UK was falling behind international rankings in literacy and one in six people in the UK had a literacy level below that expected of an 11 year old. In recent years, there has been an increase in the numbers of children beginning primary school with difficulties in spoken English, partly because of an increase in the numbers of children speaking English as an additional language. In 2014, the then new National Curriculum for primary schools in England, introduced higher educational expectations and placed increased emphasis on the mechanics of literacy: phonics, spelling and grammar. In this context, Historic Royal Palaces conceived the Curious Stories project again with the support and funding from John Lyon’s Charity.

The project focussed on working with schools and communities in the north of the borough where more low-income families are located and where over 150 different languages are spoken. For many teachers, the time they were now having to dedicate to these technical areas was at the expense of time spent inspiring children around reading, writing, speaking and listening and encouraging a love of stories and the language needed to tell them.
The overall aim of Curious Stories was to support the development of social and verbal communication skills amongst young children (aged 4-7) and their parents and carers. For children, the project aimed to generate excitement and curiosity through stories, to inspire imagination and to build confidence. For parents, the project sought to raise awareness of the importance of communication with their children and to build confidence and skills in this area so that they could support their child’s learning.

Alison Lightbown, Head of Schools and Communities at Historic Royal Palaces said:
“We were delighted that JLC could enable HRP to get the education programme off the ground with a distinctive and new initiative, which became known as Palace Explorers. With the expertise we developed in using Kensington Palace as a resource for literacy, Curious Stories was a logical next step for us, and we were thrilled that JLC wanted to continue their support for our programme and to reach more young people. The children who took part in Curious Stories showed better oral story telling than children in control groups. Their written stories also contained more descriptive elements. Parents and teachers were very positive about the effects of the programme and the opportunities for linking historical knowledge to language development through oral storytelling. The success of the Palace Explorer and Curious Stories projects positively influenced organisational attitudes towards school, community and family audiences within the Kensington area. As a result, much greater emphasis has been placed on children as a key audience, leading to the development and delivery of a regular family programme of art, design, storytelling, trails and digital missions at Kensington Palace. We reviewed the schools programme and introduced new literacy sessions and content. In 2019 we opened Victoria: A Royal Childhood, for the first time family and school groups were considered a priority audience and this shaped the content and design of the exhibition”.

Alison addsWe know that access to arts, culture and heritage can have a positive impact on health, well-being, educational attainment and builds cultural capital. Funding from organisations such as JLC is vital to enable all children to have access to a rich cultural and creative education and to grow-up as both confident consumers of and contributors to arts, culture and heritage”.

In the last thirty years we have fought hard to protect the Arts sector and will continue to do so for the foreseeable. We would like to take this moment to remind our groups of the Cultural Capital Fund available to schools and Arts organisations, which is designed to ensure that access to high quality Arts activities, delivered by the best Arts practitioners, are accessible to all children across the Beneficial Area.

3. The power of community in times of crisis

Looking back over thirty years, there is much to celebrate. However, thinking about the events of 2020 we can’t forget what happened in the summer of 2017 following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower and the synergy in our approach to responding in a crisis.

The fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower sent shockwaves across London and the world.
This residential tower block in North Kensington is based within the heart of our Beneficial Area. We knew of many of the people and communities that live there through the groups that we fund and quickly decided to do all we could to help members of this much-loved community.

Traditionally, Kensington & Chelsea as a local authority area is often overlooked for funding and support from outside agencies. Parts of the borough are the most affluent in the country, if not in Europe. However, in pockets, such as North Kensington, levels of deprivation and need are incredibly high. In the first days and weeks following the fire, we worked closely with other funding organisations and London Funders to create an emergency response strategy to support the communities living in the area that had been affected. John Lyon’s Charity was able to use its experience and knowledge of the area to help others navigate the complex landscape and galvanise this support to help direct funding to organisations on the ground, supporting those who needed it the most.

What was striking about this approach was that out of the embers came strength and community. Funders stepped outside their normal practices through raising additional funds, collaborative delivery, changing the application process to a far simpler format to ensure quicker release of funds and swift, efficient decision-making. It was incredibly powerful to witness how local organisations came together to support each other with funding applications, ideas for projects and sharing resources. London Funders provided a platform for mobilising the emergency response by setting up a Community Core Costs Fund. This Fund aimed to get money out quickly to some of the frontline and grassroots organisations who had responded to the fire or who were meeting wider community needs. The funding for this programme was provided by the Department of Community and Local Government and The Tudor Trust. Over £1.1m was distributed during July to 100 local community groups, faith groups, schools and residents associations for the extra equipment, spaces, food, supplies or staff needed to support local communities for 3-6 months.

JLC’s emergency response to support London Funders was to put out a specific call for action by organising a formal meeting of funders. Alongside local partners, we coordinated a Children and Young People Funder Coalition to help organisations working with children and young people affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower to access funding. Using our contacts and local reputation,  the Grants Team headed into North Kensington to hold four whole-day, one-to-one drop-in surgeries for community groups to discuss funding needs and ran one large scale feedback workshop that had approximately 85 representatives from community groups. This happened within ten days of the fire.

The Children and Young People’s Coalition Funding was for local organisations working with children, young people and families affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire. The funding for this programme was provided by a range of funders including the Big Lottery Fund, The Tudor Trust, BBC Children in Need, City Bridge Trust, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea Foundation and the Department for Education. The Coalition ran two phases of funding. Phase one saw funders provide grants of £1.07m to 61 organisations to deliver services and projects for children and young people in the summer holiday period. These ranged from day trips to the running of free activities. Phase two saw organisations apply for longer-term funding for projects delivered over the following year. These were divided into three priority areas: out of school activities; children’s emotional wellbeing; and family work. A further £1.2m was provided to 53 organisations in phase two.

To simplify the funding process, we created a single application form to ensure funds were distributed quickly and efficiently. These could then be viewed by all the funders on an online portal, created by London Funders, to make offers of grants. The models and methods used to respond to these emergencies demonstrated that it is possible to get down to the bare bones of what each funder needs in order to participate. We felt touched and honoured that we were trusted to lead by example and use our many years of experience to triage the applications using our local knowledge and expertise to ensure the application process was executed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Here is a what a few of the organisations supported by the Grenfell Emergency Response Fund had to say:

“Thanks to funding from John Lyon’s Charity via the Grenfell Response Fund we were able to provide a range of activities for families affected by the Grenfell Tragedy. The families came together with their children in a safe and friendly environment to share positive experiences, which helped the children gain confidence, make new friends and take the first steps to rebuilding their lives.” – Ulick Tarabanov, FRSA, Founder & CEO, London Sports Trust


“In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we were among many local voluntary organisations who stood up to help support the community during an incredibly difficult and shocking time. As we are a very small organisation with a limited reserve, we would not have been able to support the community without being awarded an emergency grant. This grant helped us to continue supporting the bereaved community as well as recruit more staff and volunteers to help. We could not have reached as many people without this emergency response funding for the Grenfell Tower funded by John Lyon’s Charity”. – Kamal Mohamed, Chairman of Westpoint Sustainable Community Development

On the night of the Fire at Grenfell Tower, QPR Community Trust lost two participants who had participated in our Girls programme and Kicks programme. What was really important to us as the local football club was to support that community to recover in the days after the fire and the months and years ahead. It was important for us to play a supporting role and facilitate the needs of the community who needed organisations & people they could trust and react quickly to their needs. Without the support of the John Lyon’s Charity we would not have been able to provide activities and dedicated staff to facilitate the needs of the community at a time when they needed it most.” – Andy Evan, CEO of QPR

Four years on, the ramifications of Grenfell Tower continue to be felt throughout the area and will continue to do so for many years to come. As we begin to focus on the recovery process of the pandemic, it is hard not to draw significant parallels between Grenfell and the emergency response in the days and weeks that followed. It was admirable how quickly London Funder members stepped up in a time of crisis to unite with one core purpose – to ensure the survival of the Kensington community. This was the first time public and private funders in London had got together to make a real difference to its community in a time of need and it was ultimately this process that was the catalyst in thinking that led to the London Community Response in 2020. Without this joint funding approach, we may not have had the same crisis response experience and expertise to face the present pandemic and unite once again with such speed to ensure our London community is protected.

2. Perivale Primary School & The FGM Project: Getting people talking and tackling difficult topics

Over thirty years, we have prided ourselves on brokering partnerships between the voluntary sector and schools to help support the discussion of difficult topics with children and young people. As much as it is easier to shy away from conversations that may make people feel uncomfortable, these conversations are incredibly important to raise awareness around sensitive issues and get not only young people talking, but the adults around them too.

We have carefully worked with schools and organisations to ensure that the partnerships formed, result in open, sensitive and safe discussions with education at the heart of each conversation. Education plays a vital role in helping children, young people and the support networks around them understand and tackle sensitive topics. Often the most important subjects are the most difficult to talk about – not least when it comes to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM is practiced on girls and young women under 18 and is not prescribed by any religion nor has any health benefits. On the contrary, the practice can cause life-lasting physical and psychological trauma. At present, 200 million girls and women alive have undergone FGM with current rates showing an additional estimated 68 million girls who face being cut by 2030. We recognised from day one that change is more often effective when driven by communities themselves. Understanding that prevention works most successfully when community and statutory bodies work together, in 2017 Perivale Primary School and the Health Improvement Team at Ealing Council approached JLC with their pioneering community-led approach to tackling FGM, which we could not ignore. It was known that Ealing was a higher potential risk of FGM due to the diversity of these areas. According to estimates by City University, back in 2017 in England there were 137,000 girls and women living with FGM and 144,000 girls at risk of it.

Led by Hoda Ali, a survivor, qualified nurse and national campaigner against FGM, this initiative offered a culturally sensitive approach to tackling FGM by educating primary school pupils (Years 3-6), school staff, parents and the wider community around the realities of the practice. Pupil lessons in schools cover themes from safeguarding and online safety, to relationships and good and bad touch. Workshops delivered for parents and the local community support the understanding of lessons, alleviate concerns and promote their own awareness of the implications of FGM for their children. Alongside this, school staff are upskilled to deliver sessions in school to ensure the legacy of the project. This is done in a variety of ways, including workshops, shadowing modelled lessons and regular school forum meetings. Making FGM illegal on its own has not worked. In teaching primary school pupils, educators and communities about FGM, this initiative empowers the next generation and their support networks to be heard, seek help where it is needed and ultimately end FGM. This partnership of community and statutory bodies has created a powerful model for change that will save lives, with the Charity’s funding enabling this pilot to come to fruition in the present, so that it can create long-term attitudinal change. The initiative has now received approaches by schools across the UK as it gains momentum and FGM awareness has since been added to the secondary school curriculum from 2020.

Hoda Ali, Community Outreach Project Manager for Safeguarding, Perivale Primary School says “we are now coming towards the end of our fourth year of funding from John Lyon’s Charity. The funding we have received so far has enabled us to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation in over 20 schools in our borough. We have worked with nearly 1,000 parents, thousands of pupils and over 500 members of staff to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of FGM. Without JLC’s funding, we would not have been able raise awareness and knowledge of FGM, which could have been detrimental to the safety and wellbeing of young girls and women in our borough. Thank you on behalf of over 200 million women and girls who are survivors of FGM. Thank you.”

Deputy Headteacher of Perivale Primary School, Naomi Dowd adds “I have been in awe of the dedication and passion of Hoda and the team to this project and the amazing impact it has had for schools and their communities. Without the support of John Lyon’s Charity this would not have been possible”.

We have always said that it is our mission to protect the life-chances of children and young people and we are very proud to support such an important initiative in schools in Ealing. We hope to see these difficult conversations taking place for the foreseeable across the Beneficial Area and in turn creating change permanently. To find out more information about Perivale Primary School’s community led approach to ending FGM, please click here.

1. English National Ballet’s ‘Dance Journeys’ – From Young People to Young Professionals

We’ll begin with our support of English National Ballet’s (ENB) ‘Dance Journeys’ that was supported by the Charity with grants totalling £197,600 from 2013 to 2019.

Group ENB Dance

Dance Journeys, an initiative of ENB, connected schools through collaborative dance workshops. It was, and continues to be, a brilliant way to bring children and young people together with dance experts to work together in the world of performance art so that they can experience the rigours, disciplines, joys and inspiration of creating a new choreography for performance linked to themes highlighted in ENB’s current productions. What makes Dance Journeys particularly stand out to John Lyon’s Charity as a special model to highlight and celebrate is that it has allowed ENB to open its doors to normal schools across London. The project has provided not only dance opportunities to young people but new opportunities that they may never have experienced had it not been for our funding. As a result, the children, their parents and teachers at the schools who have taken part in Dance Journeys have all had the privilege to participate in a high-end professional production, whether it’s dancing on the stage or watching the magic happen from the audience. Dance Journeys has not only allowed young people to experience how a professional performance comes together but also reached a large number of pupils who may never have thought they would be interested in the arts sector.

Dance class

As a result, several young people have gone onto pursue careers in dance, for example joining English National Ballet’s youth company ENBYouthCo or the Ailey Studios in New York – following their involvement with the project. It is fantastic to see how this project has not only inspired young people but opened doors for them. The model is now so successful that there are plans to expand Dance Journeys even further with opportunities to take it to Southampton and work with schools and youth companies there, as well as plans to establish a project with the Royal College of Music (RCM) and the creation of a Creative Fellows programme in London.
With the joint confidence from both ENB and JLC in the Dance Journeys’ model, as well as the trusted relationship between organisation and funder, Dance Journeys has since become ENB’s flagship engagement project. Since 2013, over 900 young people have worked with ENB and experienced being part of a professional dance company. The first schools to participate were Capital City Academy (Brent) and Hammersmith Academy (Hammersmith & Fulham). Young students took part in Lest We Forget, the ground-breaking collaboration between ENB and Akram Khan Company to commemorate the First World War.

Dance Journeys incorporates wider aspects of ballet production, including sound, video and backstage work. Young people not only learn about dance but collaborate with other young, aspiring musicians from RCM Junior Department who often play specially commissioned music. The project enables young people to experience the same opportunities as a professional would within the arts industry. It is inclusive and no one is discriminated or left out because of who they are or where they come from. The project is not about finding London’s young new talent who will enter the profession but to give young people exposure to the creative world and allow them to be inspired, motivated and gain confidence.

Group DanceThis project required ENB to take a leap of faith. With gentle and persistent encouragement from John Lyon’s Charity, Dance Journeys changed the way that ENB approaches its Creative Learning offer. Rather than it being siloed and separate from ENB’s main programme of work, Dance Journeys created an intrinsic bond between the professional ballet company and young people. When it started in 2014, Dance Journeys students were invited to perform as part of a curtain raiser to the ENB season at the Barbican, dancing on the same stage, but not to the same audience as the professional production. By 2019, ENB’s commitment to Dance Journeys had grown to the extent that it was now programmed as an evening performance during ENB’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre season She Persisted. Not only were young people influenced and inspired by ENB’s high quality and innovative body of works, Dance Journeys also gave the students an opportunity to dance alongside professional ballet dancers and Dance Journeys Unchartered 2019 was embedded as part of the main professional production at Sadler’s Wells with young people sharing the same stage as professional dancers.

The impact on the young people of coming into close contact with professional ballet dancers, musicians and technicians cannot be underestimated and the resulting performances were profoundly moving and a testament to ENB’s forward thinking in this work. The logistical challenges for ENB to working in this way cannot be overestimated but with a shared desire to have a greater impact on children and young people, the success of Dance Journeys is largely down to the mutual respect between ENB and John Lyon’s Charity.

Fleur Derbyshire-Fox, Director of Engagement at ENB says “We simply couldn’t have evolved Dance Journeys without the support of John Lyon’s Charity. It really has been life changing for ENB because it has moved us on so much from where we were back in 2009. We call it our flagship project because it is a beacon for us and will continue to be. I think JLC took a punt and really trusted us to deliver something special for three years. I loved the trusted relationship with JLC, I just think it’s really special. What Dance Journeys proves is that if you have a trusted relationship with a funder, you can achieve so much. It really does feel like a partnership”.

The impact of Dance Journeys can be demonstrated by the story of Ludgero Souza who began participating in Dance Journeys in 2016, through Friern Barnet School. After discovering a love of dance and developing his skills through the programme from 2016—2018, he successfully gained a place in ENBYouthCo in 2019, and is still an active member of the youth company. He gained an ENB professional placement during lockdown, demonstrating dance material for lead artists for ENB online platform BalletActive and the newly launched ENBYouthCo-nnect. By taking part in Dance Journeys, Ludgero found his passion for dance and decided to pursue his interest further.

Louise Peacock (Dance Teacher) from Copthall School, commented: “Dance Journeys has given our students the most amazing experience of working within a professional environment. The opportunity of working with a professional choreographer has totally inspired them and their growth in terms of becoming confident and engaging performers has been exceptional.”

ENB seeks to repeat Dance Journeys each year, keeping it relevant and in tune to the needs of young people. It has become a model of good practice and is currently being adapted for regional partnership work including Raymonda in Southampton in 2022. It has become part of the talent pipeline into dance and the creative arts, with more career opportunities and signposting to apprenticeships and professional placements being included – which are needed for our young people now more than ever before.
We are incredibly proud of how Dance Journeys has grown and evolved in the last six years and look forward to continuing the positive and trusted relationship with ENB in years to come. If you would like to find out more about Dance Journeys, please click here. –Dance Journeys – English National Ballet