28 Jul 2021
Aspire NI, exists to work with children in Northern Ireland in poverty to help close the educational attainment gap that exists between rich and poor. Based in Craigavon, Aspire NI works alongside local youth workers and organisations to provide free services for children from lower-income families to support and equip them in education through 12 schools in the area.
“The young people we work with living in the Portadown, Lurgan and Craigavon area are just like any other young person in the UK, only they come from low-income families (Recipients of Free School Meals – FSM) which means that statistically, only 49.5% of them will achieve more than 5 GCSEs A*-C. This is 28.6% lower than their peers.” Explained Andrew McGuire, Charity Coordinator.
“The only difference leading to their lower academic achievement is their family’s level of income. Through the Aspire program, we have met many young people who through situations outside of their control have been disadvantaged and struggled through school. In our program, 91% of the young people on FSM’s achieved 5 GCSE’s or more in 2020. These young people are bright and able, however, their backgrounds hold them back. We want to change this.”
“The Pressure Group funding supported us to launch the ‘Stop Poverty Now’ social media lead campaign, running in cooperation with End Child Poverty. We are a coalition of over 60 charities and together we are working to put pressure on the UK government to make two poverty commitments.
1. To create a poverty policy with clear aims of eradicating child poverty in the UK.
2. To add ‘socio-economic background’ to the Equality Act of 2010. So that an individual’s financial situation cannot be held against them or used discriminately against the individual.
“Our media team at Aspire NI run the @stoppovertynowuk social media accounts sharing
information and stories about UK wide poverty. The campaign directed individuals to ‘support
the cause, sign the petition’ a government petition with our two aims. We plan to launch a petition around our two aims asking the Government to have a clear child poverty strategy and to add Socio-Economic background to the Equality Act 2010. We are aiming to get at least 10,000 signatures. We will share this on our social media and encourage our partnering charities to share also.”
“Change in this area will see young people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds achieve more readily in education and work. This will benefit not just the young people we work with, but every young person and adult in the UK.”
This is just one example of how the Pressure group fund can be used to support your community to make change. Up to £1,000 of funding is available for projects that are trying to address social injustice and what the impact of their work will be. In particular, how they will encourage civic action, working with groups and individuals to get their voices heard by decision-makers. To find out how the Pressure Fund can support you, click here.
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”