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Build IT @ the Park – appeal for support

Dear All

You may have heard of Education Unlimited. It is an exciting new Learning and Skills Council funded project only available in Bristol. With strong support from local business it took the view that a radical new approach to learning was needed if we are ever to harness the potential of all our young people. In the 14–18 age group, too many have been falling by the way side year on year. What a great idea!

In recent months build IT @ the Park has been working with other providers across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to develop this strategy. Pooling a host of creative ideas and copious enthusiasm, a distinctive formula has emerged. The key themes are strong partnerships, unconditional learner support, individually tailored programmes and an emphasis on building towards progression and future success.

Considerable demands have come to bear on participant organisations to be up and running in short timescales. They have taken up the challenge and delivered. So far around 250 of the most seriously disengaged youngsters have been drawn into the scheme. They have come with a background of social exclusion, dysfunctional families, educational failure and neglected additional needs. In many instances the case histories make all too harrowing reading and yield sad indictments of standard mechanisms.

Yet the EUL philosophy has proved its worth. After a few short months the evaluations consistently demonstrate a reason for new hope. The project has clearly brought many young people back to self belief and a thirst for achievement. In fact, it seems to offer the recipe for a model which many had believed beyond reach. The infrastructure is in place and the prospects are tantalising.

We have now been told EUL will receive no funding after 31st May 2004. It will all end in less than a month.

The sense of disappointment and disbelief amongst those involved can
hardly be expressed. Other providers, like ourselves have come on board with the incentive of continuation funding for EUL into 2005 and beyond.

True no firm promises were made on that point but the indicators were presented as very positive and the likelihood strong. On that basis considerable planning has taken place in good faith. Utter turmoil has resulted from the devastating fall of the axe.

It is for the young people, however that we feel the deepest concern, both for those currently following programmes and hoping to continue and for those who will forfeit the opportunity to ever become involved. Moreover, in their eyes and to the world at large we the providers are held responsible, who understand most poignantly that youngsters must not be let down.

In the face of this barrage of negatives our colleagues have come together to express their belief in the EUL concept. We feel there is too much at stake to allow what has been created simply to dissipate. Therefore, we wish to explore every avenue to gain support for and secure the continuation of the work.

We understand the decisions underpinning this situation have been taken on a National LSC and Central Government level. We would welcome your help in urging those concerned to think again about what will be lost. The providers would also be grateful for your ideas and advice on how alternative sources of funding might be found if needs be.

Many thanks for taking the time to understand the awful predicament in which we have been landed. On behalf of those who could benefit from EUL, we extend our gratitude in anticipation of any assistance you can offer.

Yours sincerely

Don Jenkins