The Renaissance Foundation works specifically with three marginalised and hard-to-reach groups of 13 to 17-year-olds from Tower Hamlets which are young carers, young hospital patients (transitioning from child care to adult care), and disadvantaged school pupils at risk. Research has proven that these three groups suffer from significant educational, social and emotional challenges such as lower academic attainment, high unemployment rate, isolation, self-destructive behaviour and lack of self-esteem.
Our 3-year outreach programme has been specifically designed to provide these 13 to 17-year-olds with the emotional and practical support they need to enhance their life prospects. Our first objective is to strengthen their resilience, which is achieved through inspirational visits to local and foreign institutions that broaden horizons, and meetings with role models that increase their confidence and ‘can-do’ attitude. Our second objective is to develop the young people’s soft skills and life tools such as critical thinking and public speaking, which is done through team-building workshops and opportunities to speak at social events. This improves their engagement with their peers and with wider society, be that motivation at school or medical compliance. Finally, we aim to encourage our young people to develop their career prospects and broaden their perspective of work. That is done through careers visits and employability sessions at our corporate partner organisations such as KPMG, CNN or Youtube. We also place a huge emphasis on maturing their digital and social media skills, as experience can open a host of vocational opportunities.
All participants to the charity’s programme are referred by well-respected authorities. Renaissance Foundation gets regular nominations from local schools, London-based hospitals (including Chelsea Westminster Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital), and leading organisations supporting young carers. These high profile relationships are a mark of trust in the foundation’s ability to deliver positive change.
One of the charity’s special aspects is its focus on supporting transitioning patients, a rarely met need by other charities in London. Renaissance Foundation is also unique in its group dynamic, as the foundation merges the three communities of young carers, school pupils at risk and transitioning patients together. The aim of this integration is in order to develop our young people’s ability to empathise with others’ conditions, and to learn and be inspired by the ways their peers deal with adversity. When the young people join the programme, we encourage them to start de-linking their identity to their challenges, and to develop a sense of self based on their newly developed aspirations, achievements and positive social interaction.
Finally, the charity has built up a solid network of relationships with experts in their field from business, sport, the arts, academia and government over its ten years of existence, providing it with a wealth of options to use for its inspirational visits and its series of interviews with celebrities. It is thanks to this net of relationships that every year we are taking around 12 young people to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo.