2022 QAC "Fund Me" awards winners announced

Back in 2019, we were kindly awarded a £30,000 grant (£10,000 a year over three years) from the National Express Foundation, to support our Supported Internship programme. Students on the programme were encouraged to apply for bursaries allowing them to fund their own specialist equipment and resources allowing them to participate in internships, placements and studies that may not otherwise have been possible.

Although times have been challenging over the last couple of years, we have still been able to run our ‘Fund Me’ initiative, also opening it up to our STRIDES students, who share our Pinewood space with our Supporting Interns.

Supported by the parents and Job Coaches, applications had to be submitted by the students themselves and had to outline what internship placement they were on, how funding would help support them with their current students and also their plans post QAC; it was their application and very much about what they wanted and needed, not what someone thought they needed, encouraging them to not just think here and now, but also life beyond their time at QAC. 

This year was the final round of ‘Fund Me’ and it took place before half term. Following their applications, students had to do a short presentation to a panel about their application, talking in more detail as to how the award would support them now and in the future, why they should be considered and answering any questions the panel may have. The group did really well, stepping out of their comfort zones and presenting themselves confidently and professionally - it was clearly evident they had thought hard about the opportunity they had and how best to use it. The panel was really impressed!

Below is an outline of what the project funded, and why:

Kieran has studied both IT and Creative Media at QAC and had a real interest in website development, including the technical side, so much so he currently works as an IT Assistant down at Pinewood, helping others problem solve when it comes to IT. Once he finishes his course, Kieran plans to continue learning and developing his skills through online learning, helping him reach his dream of owning and running his own design and print business. To help him with this, and help develop his entrepreneurial talents even further, he applied for a high spec Apple device with the software and functionality he needs to continue his work.


Aisha is now in her fourth year at QAC, on the Supported Internship programme after studying Health & Social Care (H&SC) for her first three, achieving a Level 2 Diploma. It was her time in H&SC that caused Aisha to develop a liking, and a skill, for helping and supporting others, something which she draws on in her Reception Assistant role. This desire to help people, along with her own experience being visually impaired, is what Aisha hopes to draw on in a future role working with children with disabilities. She has successfully completed some school placements already, taking on a range of tasks and activities to support the children, and hopes to have more. To support her in researching and planning for job opportunities, as well as preparing work and activities she could do with children, Aisha applied for a laptop and Zoomtext Reader & Magnifier which will enable her to access information independently and with ease.


Although his main work placement is working in a shop, Kyle knows that the role he really wants is one working in supported living, working with young people with disabilities. Kyle also spends time in QAC’s Community Services and wants to draw on this, and his own experiences, to help support others in similar circumstances. Although he has IT skills following his IT course at QAC, Kyle has limited access to equipment, so applied to ‘Fund Me’ for a laptop to help him continue his studies, looking at areas that will help in in his desired career, as well as CV preparation and job searching.


Sarah loves being outside and working with animals, so her placement at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park is perfect for her. Not only does she get to learn about lots of different animals in their care, but she also has the responsibility of looking after some of them, including tortoises, capybaras and caiman lizards. This isn’t Sarah’s first animal based work placement, having previously worked with Hole Farm Riding Centre and Birmingham Guide Dogs. Although she loves working with the animals at the park, sometimes the weather can make it miserable, so Sarah applied for some outdoor bad weather gear to make things a bit easier for her, along with an online Animal Care course so she can develop her skills even more.


Someone else who is passionate about helping others is Abdullah, who does a work placement at Sense in Selly Oak. Ultimately, he would really like to work in a youth club environment, helping young people to engage with activities and develop their own skills and interests. Due to his vision impairment, Abdullah often struggles with technology, relying on his phone which can be slow and small when accessing the internet. So, he applied for a laptop and Zoomtext Reader & Magnifier which will enable him to access information easily and independently.


Nathan is another student who loves being outdoors and hands-on, with a particular interest in tree surgery! He has been helping and talking with his neighbour, a tree surgeon by trade, for a while, which has reinforced his interest in it. To help advance his formal skills in the trade, which will in turn help with job prospects going forward, Nathan applied for money towards a suitable course along with suitable PPE clothing and equipment.


Charlotte is in her fourth year, having been on the LEAP and H&SC programmes previously, and currently has a work placement at ExtraCare Retirement Village where she supports the main office with reception duties and residents’ wellbeing checks. Looking ahead, Charlotte would really like to continue working in the care sector, either supporting older people in a care home environment similar to how she is now, or by drawing on her own experience to support  younger people with disabilities. To help with her job research and applications, as well as other things such as planning and preparing activities, Charlotte applied for a laptop and suitable software.

Our final application this year was from Natty, who was a Creative Media student prior to being at our Pinewood campus. Although he has a placement at ExtraCare Retirement Village, Natty knows that he wants to work in radio production going forward as he has always had an interest in radio. He is currently exploring course options post-QAC, hoping to start later this year, and for his ‘Fund Me’ application applied for a high spec laptop and relevant software to help him develop his radio production and editing skills as well as supporting his future studies and qualifications.


Well done to each of the students who did really well, not only in their initial applications but also in their personal presentations, showing passion and enthusiasm for what they were talking about, overcoming nerves and being professional. The awards will really help them on their next steps, whether this is more education, personal research and applications or skills development, also enabling them to develop more confidence in what they’re doing. We look forward to hearing from them as they move forward.

On behalf of each of the students who have secured bursary grants as part of it over the last couple of years, we would like to say a big thank you to The National Express Foundation for supporting our project and seeing the potential in our students. QAC was, and is, extremely proud to be one of the few projects supported by them with an award.