Ashridge Group Managing Director joins forces with business leaders to support youth charity
The Business Fundraising Action Group, led by Ashridge Group Managing Director Emma Walker, has secured over £15,000 of funding for Youth Concern projects. Set up last summer by Fran Borg-Wheeler, CEO of Youth Concern, this team of local business leaders volunteer their time to raise awareness and funds for future Youth Concern initiatives.
Youth Concern is a registered charity that has been supporting vulnerable 13-25 year olds in the Aylesbury Vale area for over 40 years. The charity provides services aimed at improving outcomes for young people with multiple disadvantages, ranging from homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, learning disabilities, substance misuse, trauma, abuse and unemployment. 500 young people per year currently benefit from Youth Concern services.
The charity aims to provide ongoing support to young people for as long as they need it, operating a drop-in centre that is open 4 days a week. Free services are provided on-site by a team of experts including counselling, IT suite, a music studio, kitchen, laundry and shower rooms. A non-judgemental and safe space, staff look to build relationships and trust with service users in order to support them towards overcoming their disadvantages to build a secure future. In addition, the charity also runs Aylesbury Nightstop, an emergency homelessness project which provides temporary accommodation for young people facing a homelessness crisis as well as assistance in the search for a long-term solution.
Looking for a member of the Aylesbury business community to lead the Business Fundraising Action Group, Fran contacted Emma Walker after hearing of her company’s success at the Buckinghamshire Business First Awards. Named Company of the Year 2018, Ashridge Group is a facilities management specialist that supplies sectors as diverse as corporates, live entertainment venues, rail and critical national infrastructure. Championing a people-oriented approach, the business looks to develop partnerships with other companies and charities in the county as part of its aim to support the growth of the local economy and wider community.
Over the past year, Emma has spoken at Youth Concern corporate supporters’ events and also led the first Business Fundraising Action Group event, a sponsored ‘Winter Walk’, which was attended by 184 people and raised over £10,000. This 10km challenge was so successful and well received that it will return later this year, with the ambition to become an ongoing annual event.
Ashridge Group encourages its own employees to support the charity sector and gives each member of staff two extra days holiday to devote to good causes every year, some of which has been used to volunteer at Youth Concern projects. The company also launched Ashridge Group Charity Foundation in 2018, designed to provide local business with free of charge knowledge- sharing and accredited training courses, as well as awarding financial assistance to various charitable and community group projects and campaigns. Support ranges from enabling difficult discussions, sourcing volunteers and strategy planning to financial planning, cost saving efficiencies and reviewing sustainability.
Emma Walker says, “When Fran shared the ambitions of Youth Concern and the idea behind the Business Fundraising Action Group, I was delighted to get involved. Sometimes people need a helping hand, so it’s an honour to be part of this incredible and worthwhile project. Supporting charities like Youth Concern continues Ashridge Group’s commitment to building strong links in the local area and embracing our own values of Diligence, Passion, Competence and Responsiveness. We believe we have much to contribute to the greater good, not just to our business sector.”
The latest initiative by Youth Concern is ‘The Next Step’, a new service that will allow up to 20 young people experiencing a homelessness crisis to live in a supported accommodation project for up to one year. The money raised so far by the Business Fundraising Action Group has all been allocated to this project, which is now only £23,000 away from reaching its goal and required funding amount of £200,000. Youth Concern aim to launch this project by the end of 2019.
Other fundraising activities that have taken place in association with the Business Fundraising Action Group include a pop-up charity shop and the Youth Concern 40th Anniversary Celebration, which marked four decades of charity operations in May 2019. Currently, fundraising activities include a “housework for homelessness” campaign and a “dance-bike-singathon” scheduled for later this year.
In addition to specific funding initiatives, businesses looking to engage with local CSR projects have the opportunity to sponsor Youth Concern through a tiered corporate supporters’ scheme.
“We are delighted with the great work of the Business Fundraising Action Group so far and there are many more exciting ideas to come”, said Fran. “This group was created out of a need to discover new funding streams and expand our reach in the local community. Youth Concern actively promotes community responses to community issues. the success of this group proves what can happen when businesses and charities work together towards the common good.”