Young people leaving the care system in Milton Keynes will be given the support they need, thanks to a grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons to the charity Volunteering Matters.
The £45,000 grant from the Freemasons will fund the award-winning Grandmentors programme, which will see volunteers aged 50 and over trained to provide mentoring for young people leaving care during their transition into adulthood and independence.
Every year 10,000 young people over the age of 16 leave care in the UK. More than 60 per cent were taken into care due to abuse or neglect, and many have grown up without the significant personal and developmental benefits of a grandparent figure in their lives.
The Grandmentors project is inspired by the accepting and nurturing relationship between a young person and a grandparent. This life changing volunteer programme is already running in six areas across the UK, and has now come to Milton Keynes.
The launch event for the project, held at Milton Keynes Civic Chambers, was in partnership with Computer Xplorers Bucks. Attendees got involved in Lego robotics and coding, which helped potential mentors and mentees to meet each other in a relaxed, fun and innovative way.
The grant from Buckinghamshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Oonagh Aitken, chief executive of Volunteering Matters, said: “We’re very grateful to Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help young people leaving the care system. Our vision is that every care leaver in the country has access to a Grandmentor, should they choose, and we’re deeply thankful to the Freemasons for helping us to work towards that vision.”
Phil Blacklaw from Buckinghamshire Freemasons said: “I’m very pleased we’re able to help fund the Grandmentors programme. Young people leaving care are already most likely to have been victims of neglect and abuse in childhood and they then find themselves on their own at 18 years of age with little or no help from anyone. Giving them someone to rely on at that crucial stage can be life-changing.”