To celebrate 15 years of inspiring philanthropy here at Somerset Community Foundation, we're going to look at 15 people, groups and organisations with whom we have had long standing relationships and changed Somerset for the better over a sustained number of years.
The first in this series is Back on Track, a local, volunteer-led charity that has transformed the lives of young people ever since they started, with a ‘Local Network Fund’ grant from us, just over ten years ago.
Back on Track works with local schools and agencies to help young people with complex needs and sometimes chaotic lives to develop skills through contact with horses, hosted by local commercial stables - a really great example of what can be achieved when you make the most of the assets Somerset has to offer. You can read more about Back on Track's work in a case study, here.
One of the things that has impressed us most about Back on Track, and enabled us to continue supporting them, has been the data they have collected through their partner schools that participate in their eight week programmes. This data has provided us with good evidence of the impact they are making, in a very simple format. Each young person is ranked on a number of measures, both at the start of a programme and again at the end, on a simple scale of 1-10.
The first grant we awarded to them – which was also the first grant they had ever received – was just over ten years ago, when Back on Track was a pilot project launched by the British Horse Society. It has since grown to become an independent charity, led by Sally Whittaker and her small team of dedicated volunteers, supported with just £25,000 in grants from Somerset Community Foundation.
Sally said: “ We could not have achieved all that we have done for the children of Somerset, without the help, generosity and advice, which was freely given by the trustees and staff at Somerset Community Foundation. I'd like to thank them very much.”
That funding from Somerset Community Foundation will have supported around fourteen Back on Track sessions and benefited over 100 young people from Somerset.
Recently, Florence Rice, a sixth form student at Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar spent some time with us here at Somerset Community Foundation, on a work experience placement. For one of her tasks, we asked her to analyse some raw data from a sample of the monitoring forms, to give us, and Back on Track, a clearer picture of the change they are achieving. The resulting graphs illustrate the significant progress made by the young people who took part.
What we found is that overall the programme increases young people’s self-esteem, their ability to work with others and even the simple pleasure that comes from having fun with others.