Businesses back care lifeline

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Dorset Chamber has launched a groundbreaking fund to transform the life chances of disadvantaged young people in care.

It has founded ‘Dorset Chamber Life Skills’ as one of the crowning initiatives of commemorations to mark its 70th anniversary in 2019.

The fund will raise money to provide life and employability skills for the rising number of young people in care and care leavers aged 13 to 25.

More than £4,000 has already been raised – when the fund was launched at the Chamber’s 70th anniversary ball at the Cumberland Hotel in Bournemouth.

The Chamber will work closely with local authorities and its partner Dorset Community Foundation will provide governance and distribute money raised.

Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “We worked really hard to find a gap where genuine support is really needed.

“Statistics show that young people in care and care leavers are often disadvantaged and their life chances are significantly worse than for young people in general.

“This includes statistics for criminal offences, school exclusions, university attendance, unemployment, training, homelessness and teenage pregnancy.

“Our fund aims to provide vital life skills and employability support to improve the life chances of these young people.

“We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support when we launched the fund at our ball and encourage other businesses to throw their weight behind the initiative too.”

All training and support will be delivered by community and voluntary organisations, and in partnership with local authorities. It will be where there are clear gaps in provision or where funding does not already exist.

This is set to include:

  • Volunteer business mentoring
  • Work experience with supportive employers
  • Funding for safeguarding training
  • Self-esteem and functional skills workshops
  • Life skills workshops
  • Employability workshops to support job seeking and interview skills

Dorset Chamber says latest statistics show a 27 per cent rise in the number of children and young people in care in the county, up to 485. (Please confirm Ian. Many thanks)

Businesses are being urged to make donations and offer support in other ways such as through work experience, mentoring and training.

Past-presidents were among the guests when the Chamber launched the new fund at its seventieth anniversary ball, which also included presentations, a dinner and entertainment.

The Ball was sponsored by Goadsby, which is the Chamber’s longest serving member. The firm was the first to contribute to the new fund with a £1,000 donation.

Contact Sarah Milton on sarah.milton@dcci.co.uk for more details about helping the fund.