Making a real difference to the people, organisations and infrastructure in Bath and North East Somerset has always been St John’s guiding principle. For the last 847 years, we have used our activities, funding and knowledge to positively impact individuals in our community.
Last February, our strategy evolved to not only focus on the wellbeing of older adults, but to also support every child, under the age of twelve, to grow into a healthy, happy and educated member of our community. The introduction of this strategy has set us on a new and unknown trajectory and had us asking the question ‘How do we accomplish such a challenging feat?’
We started by structuring the Foundation Fund around four specific areas of focus; nutritious food daily; safe spaces to go outside of school; support for behavioural and emotional needs and extra educational support. We decided to focus on these four key areas to help us achieve our vision of significantly reducing the local authority’s disproportionate educational attainment gap (this is the difference between the educational levels of children in deprived communities compared to better off peers).
However, to have the biggest impact on the most children possible, we knew we also needed to align with partner organisations that shared our ambition.
The importance of partnership working cannot be understated – a shared vision and an overarching purpose drives results and creates more opportunities for those that need them the most.
One of the organisations that we have partnered with and supported through funding and shared knowledge, is Bath Recreation. Alongside the Medlock Charitable Trust, we are working together to help shape their newly-launched Glasshouse Academy Programme.
The Academy aims to support cohorts of children from Year 5 to Year 13, through regular out-of-school sporting activities. The recreational programme helps develop values and skills that will serve children as they go through life.
Leading the charge on the Glasshouse Academy programme is Bath rugby legend, Matt Banahan. Matt will be guiding children to make good choices, on and off the sports field. His professional career and first-hand, personal experiences make him the perfect person to lead such an initiative.
Sports development is the main feature of the programme, yet not the only one; the Academy hopes to support children as they reach further education, apprenticeships, or employment and equip them with the necessary skills for a successful future. The programme has been designed to create opportunities, to raise aspirations and to release potential. These ambitious goals align whole-heartedly with those of St John’s Foundation Fund.
Working alongside Bath Recreation helps us both achieve our long-term aim of bettering the lives of children in our community. Together we can develop local networks and identify future initiatives that support disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. We continue to build connections with local schools, helping us to identify their needs and understand how we can best support them through The Foundation Fund.