'Fund Me' Project Success

In December 2019 we announced that QAC had been awarded £10,000 a year, for the next three years, by the National Express Foundation. The grant is to support our Supported Internship programme and eligible student interns 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 supported by the parents and Job Coaches, applications had to be submitted by the students themselves and had to outline what placement they were on, how funding would help support them with their current studies and also their plans post QAC.

It was very much about what they wanted and needed, not what someone thought they needed so it was a great opportunity for students to reflect on what they were currently doing and how things could be made easier but also longer term, looking at their future aspirations.

Following their applications, students had to do a short presentation to a panel talking in more detail as to how the award would support them, answering any questions the panel may have. They all did really well, stepping out of their comfort zones and presenting themselves confidently and professionally - it was evident they had thought hard about the opportunity they had and how best to use it. The panel were impressed!

Below is an outline of who was supported through our ‘Fund Me’ project:

Monika supports the LRC team with various admin and computer-based activities, but due to her visual impairment can struggle with accessing information on computers. Through ‘Fund Me’ she was awarded a new laptop, complete with Zoomtext software to make accessing documents much easier. Not only will this be useful on placement, but also for other studies and in other workplaces that don’t always have (or know about) Zoomtext.

Having been an IT student, Jordan is very technical minded and wants to work in a tech support role in the future, following a successful external ‘Front of House / Reception’ placement. For Jordan, it was a portable CCTV reader that was the key piece of equipment to make his life easier. This will enable him to read a wide range of documents with ease, whatever format they are presented to him and whatever the location or environment.

Ross sits with his new professional trade equipment kit

Ross thrives in practical, ‘hands-on’ tasks which comes in handy for his Maintenance Assistant role at a local hotel where he has developed a strong interest in electrics and plumbing. For Ross it was less about the technology and more about the practical, with his ‘Fund Me’ grant being used to sign up to further training courses and  purchase a professional trade equipment kit, complete with clothing and work boots, even our own Maintenance team were envious!

Similarly, Jack is another practical person enjoying a maintenance placement. He too wanted a professional kit that could help him be ready for work as an apprentice or employee in the world of maintenance. He also thought additional, specific training would be a great idea to help up-skill himself, with his interests being along the engineering and electrics route. Both Ross and Jack said having proper kit will help them look and feel the part and help give him the career focus to help him get an apprenticeship.

Charlie loves working with kids and thoroughly enjoys her teaching assistant placement. However, she often finds that note taking and keeping on top of things can be difficult, so she wanted an iPad to help, particularly with regards to making notes (and keeping them in one place) as it’s portable and supports her routine. She also thought it would help her with accessing other training opportunities, job searching and keeping her CV up to date. As well as this Charlie asked for some money towards suitable clothing / uniform that she could use for placement. Thanks to a kind donation of workwear and clothing received at Pinewood Campus earlier in the year we were able to support this separately.

Communicating with others can sometimes be difficult for George, but that doesn’t stop him giving everything to his placement where he does data entry and supports creative workshops. As with some of the other applicants, George thought new technology would help so applied applying for a laptop and software that would support his placement and enable him to complete any unfinished work at home. George wants to work in an IT related role in the future, so it is also a great way to develop more technical skills as home as well as enabling him to update his CV, search and apply for jobs.

Jakob has loved animals from a young age so was thrilled when he secured an animal carer placement at a local animal centre. He gets involved in all aspects of animal care and it’s not a job that stops with the bad weather! With this in mind he applied to ‘Fund Me’ for seasonal clothing and footwear that is suitable for working outside in all weathers and with the animals. He wanted his own kit so that he didn’t have to borrow other peoples and so that he would have appropriate clothing for securing a job working in animal care once his placement finishes.

Guy sits with his new laptop

Guy has a passion for the creative, in particular for writing and directing, so thoroughly enjoys his ‘Theatre Assistant’ placement, which was even able to continue remotely during the Covid-19 lockdown. So that he could better support the team and work with them more professionally Guy wanted a new laptop and software, including animation and design, so that he could access things more easily and be more professional. The animation industry is of particular interest to Guy, so some one-day creative courses were also part of his grant award.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has meant we weren’t able to see the students using their equipment in their current placements, which is a shame.

However, the staff team involved in the project worked hard to get the relevant equipment ordered and work delivered, albeit bit by bit, so that students still had it to with and get used to. It was a great feeling for students when things started arriving, putting smiles on their faces during a very uncertain time for all. 

QAC was, and is, extremely proud to be one of the few projects supported by The National Express Foundation last year. The fact we now know the students who have secured bursary grants as part of it, and the difference it will make to them now, and going forwards, makes us even prouder! Thanks to the funding we will be able to deliver our ‘Fund Me’ project for the next two years, which is great news for our upcoming Supported Interns. 

You can find out more about the National Express Foundation here