Realise unleashes potential

A newly-created regeneration charity is hitting full stride in its mission to help people in financial hardship to achieve their full educational potential.

Picture of Noppahawan MaltonThe North Staffordshire-based Realise Foundation, part of the Aspire Group, one of the area’s leading social housing providers – has distributed 12 new bursaries enabling people in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area to continue in education.

The awards, which have been made under the charity’s lifelong learning category, have ranged from bus passes to IT equipment. In each case students have demonstrated a need for travel, equipment or financial support.

An endowment fund of £325,000 has been created to provide bursaries for learning, jointly funded by Realise and Staffordshire Community Foundation.

Under the terms of the bursary scheme, up to 500 can be awarded to each applicant, and the first tranche of money – 5,000 in total – has paid for laptops, printers, and software to allow students to work from home, where necessary.

Will Nixon, Director of Regeneration for the Aspire Group and a Realise Board Trustee, said: “Part of the charity’s remit is to help people who are suffering financial hardship, and would otherwise be struggling to continue with their studies at college or university.

“We don’t hand out cash, but we do identify what the individual student needs – and then we provide it. We follow up on each bursary in order to monitor the impact we have had.”

He added: “The grants are intended to help people gain access to higher or further education, and stimulate a lifelong learning culture, so there is no upper age limit. Applicants simply need to prove that they are in college or university.

“The support we can offer doesn’t end there. Once students out of the education system we can help with things like CV writing and careers advice to help them achieve their long-term goals.”

Student Nopphawan Malton is one of the first people to receive financial support from Realise: “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,” she said.

“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.”

The Realise Foundation was launched three months ago to help improve the quality of life of local people, and the places where they live and work.

The charity aims to improve the external environment, raise skills, create apprenticeships, encourage learning, and help people into sustainable employment.

As part of an ongoing programme encouraging Aspire Housing residents to become more familiar with computers, the charity has also allocated £3,000 to pay for eight new laptops which will be used in the community.

The Realise Foundation is supported by gift aid from fellow Aspire Group member PM Training – an award-winning social enterprise that tackles worklessness among young people. It is also supported by donations from individuals, organisations and funding bids secured for specific projects.

It is expected to invest more than £0.5 million in the area and its people over the next 12 months.

For more information about how you can support Realise please contact 01782 854990.