City Bridge Trust backs project teaching ex-offenders to drive with £107k grant
The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has awarded a grant of £107,114 to the Upper Room to support its UR4Driving project which aims to break the cycle of re-offending and long-term unemployment amongst former prisoners.
The Upper Room, which is based in Shepherd’s Bush, works with socially and economically disadvantaged people from some of the most deprived areas of London. The UR4Driving project teaches ex-offenders to drive in return for undertaking 80 hours of personal development and employability workshops.
The project’s overall aim is to break the cycle of re-offending and long-term unemployment among ex-offenders by giving them the motivation and employability skills necessary to secure and sustain employment. This assists their re-integration into society and helps them to turn their back on crime.
Since 2010, 147 ex-offenders have obtained a driving licence. Approximately half have either found work or entered into further education within 9 months of completing the programme.
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:
“We are pleased to be able to support an organisation that’s changing so many lives across London. Since the charity began in 1990 it has grown hugely and developed into an organisation that is providing vital services to many ex-offenders London wide. Its projects- UR4Meals, UR4Jobs, and UR4Driving - are helping to offer life changing services that have helped many break out of the cycle of re-offending. It is great that we are able to help such a worthwhile charity through City Bridge Trust”.
Michael Buraimoh, Operations Director at the Upper Room, added:
“We are delighted to have been awarded a three-year grant for our UR4Driving project. UR4Driving improves the employability of ex-offenders by giving them the motivation and practical skills necessary to find employment and thus break the cycle of re-offending and long-term unemployment.
“The grant will part-fund salary costs on the project as well as contribute towards the running costs. Apart from helping us provide ex-offenders with the opportunity to turn their lives around, the City Bridge Trust grant will also help us to deliver indirect social outcomes to the wider society through fewer victims of crime.
“The Upper Room is an organisation committed to improving the lives of ex-offenders. Our projects focus on giving socially and economically disadvantaged people the tools or skills they need to improve their lives and build positive futures.”
City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.
The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £350 million since it first began in 1995.
It helps achieve the Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.
After spending most of his adult life in and out of prison with multiple sentences for theft and drug crimes, Mike, now 28, joined The Upper Room’s UR4Driving project in 2015. In February 2015 he passed his theory test at the first attempt after putting in many study hours while also volunteering on The Upper Room’s food redistribution programme, delivering surplus supermarket food to various homelessness centres and soup kitchens. Mike passed his practical test at the second attempt in August 2015, but continued to volunteer for the charity. This was the longest period Mike had been out of prison. His self-belief and confidence improved vastly, and he felt confident about his future. In November 2015 Mike secured a temporary job with a logistics company. He continued to return for advice and guidance from our UR4Jobs project and was supported to get on the Pret Foundation Apprenticeship Scheme. Mike has completed the scheme and has now secured full-time employment with Ocado as a Driver. He has not re-offended since.
Media Officer, City of London Corporation
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