Foundation Futures (FF) was set up in 2014 by two specialist teachers disillusioned with the education system and how the most vulnerable were being let down and excluded. They are based in the Byker Wall Estate, which is listed in the bottom 1% of the government’s index of multiple deprivation, and Walker (bottom 2%). 53% of children on the estate live in low-income families and 33% access food banks regularly. 10% of school aged children are excluded from school and only 11% of households on the estate have access to a computer, which further disadvantages local young people. The team have developed strong relationships in both areas, through their constant presence.
Foundation Futures provides a number of bespoke programmes which address the needs of vulnerable young people in the North East. The team deliver alternative education programmes (Building Foundations) where the young people can learn “outside the classroom” in a welcoming and dedicated space. FF addresses areas such as mental health, relationships, toxic stress, resilience, confidence, team work, communication, financial literacy, independent living and personal safety.
The team also run a series of youth clubs across the week in Walker and Byker, including some essential outreach work, which helps young men who are identified as being at most risk of criminality / gangs and knife crime.
With support from the Foundation, the team expanded their offer through a new project: ‘Make Stuff’. Based on the work of Seymour Papert, workshops were delivered using computers to aid learning by making things, and the sessions sought to act as a vehicle to engage young people and other local residents to come together and be creative. Based on the success of the project, the team continue to use the ‘Make Stuff’ resources in both their community sessions and alternative education provision.
After a challenging period, due to the pandemic and the increased needs of the local community, the Foundation supported Foundation Futures with a further grant towards recruiting an additional staff member in order to increase staff capacity. This aims to meet additional local need as the cost of living rises and the anticipated knock-on effects on these young people will be significant. By utilising additional staff capacity, Foundation Futures aims to provide more safe places, safe faces, support and continuity across all areas of its work.