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21.02.21 Assistant Sarah Holt

We are Coachmakers: doing good is what we do now, have done previously, and will continue to do in the future


All Coachmakers can feel justly proud this month because, in the midst of this overwhelmingly difficult pandemic we have, collectively as a Livery, made significant donations to relevant and worthy charities, in line with our strapline. These donations will make genuine improvements to the lives of individuals in the short, medium and longer term, writes Hon Assistant Sarah Holt, and underline that we are active, and that we do invest in young people.

Our Livery has stepped up to the plate in these difficult times and has distributed five times what we normally aim to give in a year. Truly a source of pride for every Coachmaker.

The adversity package is focused on young people and support in London. Specifically, it covers student hardship for STEM students at five London universities with which we are now connected (Brunel, City, Imperial, Kingston and Queen Mary), youth mental health through Young Minds and Steps Ahead, youth homelessness in London through Centrepoint, hospitality in London with Hospitality Action, and two of the community-based projects which the Court supported last year in our name, Cavell Nurses and Trussell Trust London Foodbank, as well as a new initiative with Smallpeice Trust for STEM inspiration and education.

Stress & pressure

As the NHS remains under more pressure than it was last spring, with stress and distress among healthcare professionals at an all-time high, it is even more important and worthwhile to support health professionals. This is why we are donating to Cavell Nurses, a charity which helps UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants affected by COVID.

While Trussell Trust London Foodbank is beyond our usual focus, the Court agreed to support it last year because it provides emergency food and help to people locked in poverty in and around the City. Trussell helps people resolve the crises they face, and it is worth noting that in the UK more than 14 million people are living in poverty, including 4.5 million children.

Youth homelessness

Family breakdown is a major cause of young people becoming homeless, often as a result of a range of complicated, and complex, problems. Not being in education makes it more difficult for these young people to access the help they need. Centrepoint, a charity of which Prince William is a Patron, is where these young people who have somehow slipped through the adult net can come for a warm and safe room, food, and a starting point to help them turn their lives round. 10,000 plus youngsters are helped by the charity each year and our donation will help the charity meet its mission.

Universities

The donated funds to the universities are for student hardship needs which, as we are all aware, are horrendous at this time. The normal routes for students to earn money in and out of term is mostly via the catering trade, all of which has been closed effectively since March 2020.

As an example, a young person at university whom we know, with no immediate family, no part-time job and ashamed to ask for help until we inadvertently found out about her position, had paid her rent and then been unable to afford to buy food. When we spoke to her, she had not eaten for 24 hours and was at the end of her tether. We helped her and put her in touch with the right people for support.

To ensure the Coachmakers has ongoing and enduring relationships after the pandemic, with the universities in particular, each will provide short monthly reports for Coachlines and a longer report after six months have passed. We have been invited to bring small groups of Coachmakers for a mini tour every couple of months or so, Covid permitting, to meet relevant students and staff and learn more about what these institutions do, and how what we have done has helped in some way.

We are guided, to some extent, by Universities UK, the organisation of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of 140 universities in the UK who told us that: “Our own research shows that loss and lack of part-time work opportunities is a real issue for students that has now been ongoing since March 2020 – students also haven’t been able to save up earnings over the summer as they normally would. In particular for care-experienced and estranged students, this can be even more profound.”

More worryingly, during the first week of national lockdown in March 2020, Student Room, the UK’s largest online student community, saw an increase of 87% in the number of suicide-related posts needing support.

New initiatives

The Charity Committee considered several mental health charities, and, after due consideration, we are donating to Young Minds, a mental health charity focusing, as its name suggests, on young people, and the Steps Ahead Programme, a mental health charity which runs an employment, education and training programme aimed at young people in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

As was the case in the previous livery year, it has become evident that it will not be possible to make all of the budgeted academic awards to our automotive and aerospace recipients because of the disruption caused by COVID.

Under new initiatives we included £10,000 for The Smallpeice Trust, a charity that provides programmes to promote engineering careers to young people aged 10 to 18 through residential courses, science, technology, engineering, maths days and STEM clubs. The Charity Committee is mighty impressed by what Smallpeice achieves and it fully meets the needs we have expressed recently of the need to get to young people at primary and secondary school level to engage their interest in STEM. Because we have limited resources, we think it is important to identify organisations that are appropriately set up and resourced with which we can work and support in order to achieve our own charitable objectives.

Funds & funding

Thanks to our Trustees, who must be congratulated on their success in managing our Charitable Fund, £250,000 of additional funds can be safely distributed this year.

Food & drink

As we all know, the hospitality sector has been very badly hit by lockdown regulations. As a London Livery company, life will not return to normal for us if those businesses which support our events do not survive. So, while hospitality is outside our usual areas of support, the view is that there is a moral responsibility to support this sector in London in its hour of need, as we will be relying on them to be there for us when restrictions are lifted. While bigger and more established businesses will benefit from the furlough scheme, there are agency and self-employed people (many students from ‘our’ universities) in this sector who will not.

The proposal is to support a charity called Hospitality Action, and specifically their new financial aid scheme which has been set up to help people who work in hospitality who have fallen on hard times because of COVID restrictions.

Some feedback received from Hospitality Action: “Thank you so much. As a single parent with two children this has honestly left me feeling so overwhelmed and emotional this morning, from using our local food pantry to now being able to go and buy a proper food shop this week without worrying if there will be enough food is a feeling I cannot even explain. I honestly cannot thank you enough for your help. This grant has helped me enormously at this unpredictable time, without this grant I would be down a dark hole.”

Read more at: https://www.coachmakers.co.uk/charity/