Today is a sad day!
A couple of years ago now the Trustees of a Charity called “The Devon & Cornwall Second Chance Trust” asked if I would help them out with some administration.
It took less than a millisecond for me to say “yes”
This charity was set up by Michael Young a few years ago. Michael had long been an inspiration to me personally. Although I never knew him, I knew of his work and he was a truly remarkable man! To be offered the chance to work for something he set up was a privilege beyond words.
Like most fabulous ideas this charity works on a simple model. The Trustees never claim expenses and I do my work for them voluntarily. I do my work for them from home. This means ALL the money managed by the charity goes towards its objectives.
Michael recognised that many people need a “Second Chance” in life. Ex offenders and addicts, people who have simply never fulfilled their potential, single parents, women coming out of abusive relationships, people struggling with illness or indeed anybody who has taken a wrong turning in their life, and found themselves in a cul-de-sac and need help to change direction. The charity is open to all of them.
To this day we keep things simple. Our application form is one sheet of paper. We ask “what do you want to do”, “why do you want to do it”, and “tell us how this will help you”.
The support we offer is two-fold. Some mentoring (or as we call it “hand-holding”) and small financial grants. A hundred pounds or so to help towards course fees and/or equipment to support the applicant during their period of transition.
MY GOD IT WORKS!
The Trustees are generous and open-minded people. They like to say “yes”. Even to what on paper for many other charities seem hopeless cases and beyond help.
To this day, the charity continues to transform lives for the better.
We have a file of “you were the only ones to support me – I’m now back on my feet and doing well” letters. Exeter University carried out a study on the effectiveness on our charity and concluded it was nothing short of amazing.
Trust in people – and good things happen!
Unfortunately, the charity has no endowment and our main funder ran into financial difficulties a couple of years ago and can no longer support us. We are down to the last couple of thousand pounds now and the charity will have to close. Our attempts at fundraising over the last few years have been fruitless. We have been told by all the main grant-giving charities that our objectives are too broad for them to support us.
I want to ask Michael what he would do! Sadly he is no longer with us.
Closure is inevitable. It is just sad that this small part of Michael’s legacy will die.
Perhaps though – the principle that really simple (and in-expensive) gestures of kindness and support can get people back on their feet – will remain!
If only I had the management ability (and the time) to find a solution that avoided closure. So frustrating!