So most people know that I have a ‘day’ job aside from the yoga where I work in substance misuse and last year set up my own charity with my long-term colleague and close friend. We called it Foundation for Change as we see what we do as not being about the problems with the drink or the drugs, but about deconstructing lives through education on psychological theory, and reconstructing more positive behaviours and patterns, ultimately creating a firm foundation on which to build and live life. I wrote a newsletter that I sent out to our supporters this morning and, proud as I was, wanted to post it here too. So here you go:
Update on Foundation for Change, June 2015
In April of this year we turned 1. And very proud we were too. Despite the enormity of the task of setting up Foundation for Change, myself, Liz and Nicholas achieved more than we ever expected in our first year of operation. I actually don’t think we had any expectations about what we wanted to do as we were barely able to see past the next week let alone the next year… Here’s quick summary of what we managed to do in that time:
>We ran 3 intakes of the NEXT Project with a total of 30 people starting. We had a few inevitable drop outs but 24 out of those 30 successfully completed which meant that we’re still hitting the same success rate of 80% that we have consistently managed over the years. 75% of them achieved their Open College Network qualifications.
>We were successful in raising match funding for every NEXT Project place paid for by the money we raised at The Funding Network (TFN) last December. We raised £8,000 through TFN and raised the same amount through match funding which enabled 10 people in total to go on NEXT and doubled the amount brought into the organisation through TFN.
>We received funding to run a follow on programme to NEXT for graduates of the project that want to work in the drug and alcohol sector. Unofficially called SMUT (Substance MisUse Training) for a while, it is now, more appropriately, called APT – Accredited Practitioner Training. We run 33 comprehensive training sessions over 9 months and this, together with extensive work place experience and the level 3 qualification needed to work in the field, means those who complete will be able to apply for jobs as substance misuse practitioners. We have just finished our first term of three.
>We received funding from Hackney Council to deliver a pilot in partnership with the New Hanbury Project based down the road. It will be a kind of ‘NEXT lite’ for people living in the hostel run by the Spitalfields Crypt Trust that begins the process of people using basic psychological theory to understand themselves. We’ll be focusing on the personal development, New Hanbury will be focusing on developing vocational skills (such as upholstery and furniture restoration) and providing placements in their growing list of social enterprises.
>We were commissioned to deliver several stand alone training days and also a short, four day course for service users who are representing local services and giving feedback to commissioners about the quality of the treatment clients of those services received.
>We have been running a monthly development group and a weekly yoga class for NEXT graduates who want to stay connected to a meaningful community.
>Amidst all of the above, we also somehow managed to regularly get out and about, attending strategic meetings, presenting our work at forums, and visiting staff teams and services across London to raise awareness of us as an organisation and developing an understanding of the unique services we provide.
All in all, we’re particularly chuffed at having made it past the one year mark and achieving everything that’s written above plus the smaller day to day, more mundane bits that aren’t there but are just as important. There are still sizeable tasks ahead, particularly involving generating income for the organisation at a time when both cuts to local authority budgets and competition for private funding will only increase.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us here – whether financial, connecting us up with others, or just giving a bit of much needed reassurance when things have been tough – it is very much appreciated.
My last shout out goes to Al Patrick, the designer of our beautiful logo and now accomplished triathlon runner. Just this week, Al Escaped from Alcatraz – a triathlon involving a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz Island to shore, an 18 mile cycle and, to top it all off, an 8 mile run. His many months of swimming in London Fields Lido and biking up Muswell Hill have obviously paid off – he completed the triathlon in 3 hours 16 minutes. Not only that, he did it to raise funds for us. His donation page is still open so if you’d like to give retrospectively, please go to https://www.givey.com/alescapesalcatraz and help him smash his target. I’ll post a sweet little write up he wrote after spending a morning in group with us at the end of this message.
Thank you for reading this far!
All at Foundation for Change
Now although the triathlon has a certain wow factor it’s important to understand what your sponsor pledges are going towards at Foundation for Change:
Who are Foundation for Change?
– Foundation for Change’s core aim is to help those who have suffered substance misuse uncover the core psychological issue that has lead them to make the choices they have and then resolve these issues through a range of courses with psychology at their core.
– The core FfC course, the NEXT Project, was established by Bob & Liz ten years ago as alternative approach to tackling the issue of problematic drug/alcohol use. The results are impressive: 80% of those who graduate do not reuse and many go on to forge careers in the social care sector helping others who are suffering similar conditions: a self fulfilling circle. However, in April 2014, the charity they ran the NEXT Project under stopped supporting the programme, so Bob and Liz took it upon themselves to set up their own charity to continue the work they are so passionate about.
– Foundation for Change is independent, supported by a handful of trustees and run by just Bob and Liz full time and Nicholas part-time.
Why do I support them?
– I spent a morning with a new class of students on their first day of the course to get an understanding of who they are and what the course covers. I had expected to meet what one might call a bunch of “smack heads” but was surprised to meet a group of entirely ‘normal looking’ people.
– It was whilst chatting to a couple of them during a break that I realised how alcohol and/or drugs can affect anyone, not just those who’ve had a difficult upbringing or got into a “bad crowd”. One middle aged woman had worked her way up in the fashion industry to become the MD of a well known high street fashion house. She slowly saw her life slip away as she ignored the alcoholism that had slowly taken hold of her. She lost her job, her friends, her house, declared bankruptcy twice and now lives on £5 a day.
– Other people I spoke to had been waiting to get on the course for several months as it has such a good reputation. What newcomers hear is how it sets a new personal foundation of self respect, esteem and empathy for others, on to which they can build a new and fulfilling life.
– The courses cover a range of psychological concepts from attachment theory and transactional analysis to Schema and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: core ideas that many of us could learn from.
– Lastly all of the charities I’ve raised money for in the past are large, well-known and are comparatively well funded. When they can afford to send free branded pens and gift coaster sets, they’re effectively giving your hard earned money back to you. FfC struggle to cover even their most basic costs, so literally every pound helps.
Thanks for reading and your pledges: https://www.givey.com/alescapesalcatraz