New charity promises regeneration boost

One of the region’s leading housing groups has launched a unique regeneration charity, aimed at supporting people and communities across North Staffordshire.

Newcastle MP Paul Farrelly unveils public art, produced by Realise FoundationThe Aspire Group has created the Realise Foundation to help improve the quality of life of local people, and the places where they live and work.

The Foundation will be supported by gift aid from fellow Aspire Group member,PM Training, which operates as a social enterprise.

This will enable that company’s surpluses to be reinvested in improving lives in the communities the Group serves by improving the external environment, raising skills, creating apprenticeships, encouraging learning, and helping people into employment.

Support will also come via donations from individuals and organisations, and project funding bids.

An endowment fund of at least £100,000 has been created to provide bursaries for learning, jointly funded by Realise and Staffordshire Community Foundation.

In all the charity is expected to invest more than £0.5m in the area and its people in the next 12 months.

The launch took place on Saturday (17 July) at an event at Trentham Gardens to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Aspire Housing.

Jonathan Wilkes, Patron of the Foundation said: “The Realise Foundation will create life-changing opportunities for people and communities across North Staffordshire. It’s a unique and inspirational charity, and I’m very proud to be associated with its work.

“I care passionately about the area and I’m particularly delighted that Realise is going to be giving young people the breaks they deserve, and encouraging all residents to continue lifelong learning.

“It’s vital that we help nurture talent, skills, innovation and enterprise, and invest resources where they can make a difference. Realise will help improve local people’s quality of life and make places everyone can be proud to live and work in.

“Over the next few years we will see more and more people benefit from the charity’s work. I look forward to supporting its activities and celebrating its success well into the future.”

The Aspire Group’s Chief Executive, Sinead Butters added: “Aspire is a key partner in the region’s social economic and environmental renewal and we are delighted to consolidate our support with the launch of the Realise Foundation.

“Our objective is to release the full potential of people and communities across North Staffordshire, helping the area thrive and its residents prosper.

“To achieve our goal, Realise will be forging partnerships with like-minded individuals and organisations and I would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to get involved alongside us.”

Among other causes, the charity will earmark funding for grants to help people in further and higher education who are at risk of having to give up their studies because of financial hardship.

One of 12 bursary recipients already confirmed is Nopphawan Malton who said: “I have set my heart on a career in healthcare, but even though I work part time to help pay my course fees, it has been a struggle financially.

“Now, thanks to Realise, I am going to be able to continue my studies and pursue my dream of becoming a Theatre Practitioner. The grant has made a big difference to my future, and I am extremely grateful.”

Also benefiting are pupils of Seabridge Primary School – many of whom live in homes rented from Aspire Housing – where Realise has helped transform an overgrown quadrangle into a tranquil memory garden designed by pupils, commemorating relatives, friends and pets they have lost.

At its launch Realise confirmed it is kick-starting around 15 environmental schemes, and supporting 100 apprenticeships.