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6 March 2023

Sky’s the limit for disadvantaged South Tyneside youngsters thanks to Key’s Guy Readman Rising Stars Programme

South Tyneside charity Key has been identifying and supporting disadvantaged young people in the borough who are excelling academically, and have good school attendance, but who may have barriers (e.g. financial, family dynamics, lack of careers advice) preventing them from fulfilling their potential.

Key is planning on helping more than 30 young people aged 15-18 per year, for up to two years, through the Guy Readman Rising Stars Programme at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The newly established programme has been developed as a peer mentor/navigation service to deliver work that inspires and informs a select group of young people about the options available to them, and then supports them to navigate their way ‘through the system’ towards a chosen career, training, and/or further education pathway.

The charity is working in partnership with target schools, as well as with its existing client group and their extended cohort, to identify ‘bright but burdened’ young people who would benefit from additional support. The aim is that at least 22 of these will move into high education or meaningful training or employment per year.

Key’s Rising Stars Mentor (part-time) provides intensive tailored support to the young people identified to participate in the programme, collaborating with individuals to explore options pertinent to their experience, aspirations, and situation and address any barriers or challenges to their success.

The aim is to identify skills, talents and passions and translate into future career or business opportunities, for example, supporting young people to explore options around apprenticeships, further or higher education, to navigate the realities of business start-up or build and use networks to find out about jobs or get information, advice, and support.

The mentor supports the young person to develop a detailed Personal Growth Plan (PGP) which will include goals and milestones and will be a working document which is reviewed regularly throughout the programme of support to measure the distance travelled and outcomes achieved.

Additionally, a bursary fund provides financial support with associated expenses where needed, such as clothing and equipment or travel costs.

Peer support is key to the programme and Rising Stars Champions have been identified from among the young people Key has previously supported who have achieved their goals and are fulfilling their potential to assign to participants to support them through their journey.

A cross sector group of inspirational volunteer peer mentors, experts and leaders in their field, add capacity to the above. Each aspiring young person is matched with an appropriate mentor who can support their career development, and the relationships will be managed and nurtured by a member of the organisation’s senior management team.

Participants will also have access to Key’s enrichment programme, which enables its young people to access opportunities and make connections to broaden their horizons that more affluent youngsters routinely benefit from, for example, visits to parliament, meeting with local MPs and other members of ‘the great and the good.’

Key established the new scheme through a grant from the Guy Readman Rising Stars Programme at the Community Foundation.

The funding became available thanks to the generosity of Guy Readman OBE, a former North East Business Executive of the Year, and a patron and board member of the Community Foundation. Guy sadly died in 2014, but his family remain heavily involved in grant-making from the funds that he established.

A key principle of Guy’s philanthropic vision, was that a young person’s background should be no barrier to aspiration, attainment, or achievement in the 21st century.

Ross Allen, Chief Executive Officer, at Key, said:

 “We share Guy’s passion for unlocking talent and realising potential and are very well placed to make this sustained investment which builds upon the trusted relationships we already have with many disadvantaged and talented young people across South Tyneside.”

“This programme is making a huge difference to those bright young people taking part, helping them to gain confidence and self-esteem, overcome the identified challenges and barriers they face, identify their innate strengths, talents, interests and aspirations and support them to realise their ambitions which will enable them to fulfil their true potential and go on to live independent and successful lives.”

Ross Wilson, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation said:

“The Guy Readman Rising Stars programme was re-launched in 2022 to support organisations to help local young people to reach their full potential. Whilst funding was ring-fenced for activity in Newcastle, Key’s work with vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness in South Tyneside was difficult to ignore. Approximately six-months into the project, it has been fantastic to see how the organisation’s newly recruited mentors are engaging with young people as they work towards their goals to secure opportunities in further education and future employment.”


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