The Upper Room (TUR) is a Charity Organisation working to improve opportunities for disadvantaged people in London. One of TUR’s core projects is UR4Driving, an innovative project which aims to help ex-offenders develop the skills and sense of accountability required to avoid reoffending through the provision of motivational and personal development training, one-to-one peer mentoring, case management, voluntary sector volunteering as a form of the well lauded restorative justice (giving back to society) and helping them develop the requisite employability skills necessary to secure and sustain employment. Those who show the most commitment to positive change are taught to drive and supported to gain a driving licence. Participants’ experiences have revealed that jobs in the transport/warehousing industries are often still open to those with a criminal record, and thus a valid UK driving licence is a de facto vocational qualification for an ex-offender. A driving Licence provides ex-offenders with a strong chance of being gainfully employed and also helps to deliver social benefits to the wider society through reduced victims of crime and reduced financial cost of re-offending to tax payers.
UR4Driving won a Big Society Award in 2013 for its Outstanding Contribution to The Community. Presenting the Award, former Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the role of the project in helping “ex-offenders secure jobs and turn them away from a life of crime”. UR4Driving project was also Highly Commended under the “Education and Training” category of the Civil Society Charity Awards in 2013. The project was shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards 2013 and the Guardian Charity Awards in 2014.
Read about the Big Society Award on the government’s website, www.gov.uk.
The success of the project is now being undermined by the increasing unsustainability of grant funding which the project has relied upon in the last 6 years, while interest in the project from ex-offenders and referral agencies continues to rise every year. The challenging and particularly turbulent fundraising landscape for charities now demands that we develop new, innovative and sustainable funding streams. To achieve this, we have developed an innovative plan to translate the organisation’s goodwill within the local communities and our rich experience of helping people with some of the most challenging barriers to learning gain driving licences, into a social business model that will allow profits generated to be reinvested into the organisation’s charitable projects.
We are keen to find out what people think about this idea and have created a simple survey to help us collect this information. We will appreciate it if you could spare a moment to help us by completing the survey.
Please access the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5V6BDLV.