Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Success and Failure

What an incredible week it’s been. Last Friday I attended the NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Award on behalf of Talented Young People and was honoured to pick up the award for ‘Most Supportive Individual’ which was presented by the Duchess of Gloucester at the Ironmongers hall a venue in which they have filmed scenes for the popular Harry Potter film franchise. On the flipside it has been one of the worst weeks for our national game here in England that being football or soccer depending on where you come from.

We here at Talented Young People aren’t doing what we are doing to win awards and it isn’t what drives our organisation but it is great to be recognised by such a brilliant well known organisation and to know that their staff, members, volunteers and children they help think we are doing a great job. As well as the awards the event provided a great chance to network with many professionals and volunteers within the NAGC and other organisations set up to help young people which we hope to work with in the near future.

The one thing that amazed me about the awards were the young people who were nominated for awards. The stories of the young people who were up for awards outshone any of the adults that were up for awards and that is the way it should be. Yes it’s great to recognise individuals and organisations that help young people but we are all here for the young people and it is them who we want to see rewarded and acknowledged.

In a week of great highs for Talented Young People it was low point for English Football and the FA as the England national football team failed to qualify for Euro 2008 our first time 1994 that we have failed to qualify for a major tournament.

With the premiership being one of the biggest if not the biggest football league in the world we need a national football team which reflects this. We need the world to know we are a great footballing country and that is only going to happen by getting the results. The better the national team does the more people that will be encouraged to give a football a try and the more money that will be pumped back in to our game.

The lack of a major tournament to attend will also not help the development of an exciting crop of players we have at Under 21 level as to develop in to full first team players they need to get experience at the top level. On top of this after all the money that has been spent on our home ground Wembley we now have no competitive football matches scheduled at home for some time. We now have a brilliant ground but a team which isn’t up to that standard. With the lack of competitive football at the venue it makes me wonder why we paid all that money for it in the first place as not even the re-opening of the venue spurred the country on to greater results.

England played such a big part in the world development of sport by being the founders and creators of many different sports and it is time we got the reputation back not of just being the home of the sport but actually being good at it as well. It’s time once again to be proud and be a great, Great Britain.

We here at Talented Young People want to know your thoughts about the English football setup and you can share your views by going to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

NAGC Awards

This Friday (23/11) I will be making my way to Ironmongers Hall in London to represent Talented Young People at the NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Awards as part of their 40th Birthday Celebrations. We are so proud to be nominated to receive an award at this brilliant event.

After just celebrating our first birthday it is very hard to fathom 40 years but it is a great achievement and milestone for the NAGC. I will be so glad when Talented Young People make it to that milestone. Just think about the difference you can make in 40 years and the difference the NAGC have made.

In a world which is changing by the day for charities and organisations for a charity to exist and thrive over 40 years is an amazing feet. Not only have they seen radical changes in the charity world but radical changes in the educational world which they as an organisation have had to change with. These days a lot of charities and organisations are set up to help with problems or issues in areas where charities and organisations already exist so it is great to be invited to an event for an organisation who have been a frontrunner which was probably set up where there was little or no help or recognition and gone and blazed a trail in that area for others to follow.

The awards are such a good way to mark their 40th Birthday as it really sums up what the NAGC are about recognising, championing and helping young people with gifts and talents. I think their need to be more award ceremonies and recognition for deserving young people and for organisations and individuals who work with young people.

With so many organisations focusing on the small minority of unruly out of control young people and with these young people getting all the news and media attention it’s great to see an organisation which focuses on the many gifted and talented young people of this country. As people need to recognise that some of the so called unruly young people causing trouble are very gifted and talented young people but because they weren’t looked after properly at school and not challenged they fell in to bad ways. Like I have said on many occasions youth work needs to be the prevention business and not the cure if we want to change this world for the better. The achievers need our attention and our help as much as the non achievers if we are going to live in a balanced, fair and just world.

So in closing congratulations to the NAGC and from everyone here at Talented Young People here’s to another 40.

For more information on the NAGC go to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Funding and Grants for Charities and Not for Profit organisations

I have been wanting to talk about funding and grants in my blog for many weeks as it is an area that I feel very strongly about and feel that my thoughts need to made public on. This is a long rant so bear with me as I think many of you will agree with what I have to say.

Many Charities and Not for Profit organisations rely on funding and grants from trusts, the lottery, the government and many more funding awarding bodies to carry out their daily activities. Through my years of being involved in charities and Not for Profit organisations I have never experienced a worse or harder time for these organisations to exist in.

Now I come from a media background so every week I purchase a copy of the Guardian on Monday for their media section which is a very well respected section in media circles. In this section they have pages and pages of the latest media jobs. Well that use to be the case as now when I open it up there seems to be more job adverts for Fundraising Managers with salaries of £20,000 - £30,000 than actual jobs that actually require a media background.

Now these organisations are employing these people to be professional application form fillers and to help them win the big grants and awards for their projects. The thing is that every week there seem to be more and more positions but the money that is out there in grants doesn’t seem to be increasing. Granting bodies seem to have followed suit with the amount of professional people working applying for grants by making the application process a lot harder to qualify for many grants.

How is an organisation or a charity that is run solely through volunteers who all have other day jobs ever going to compete with organisations that can employ people on big salaries to apply for these grants and awards? Quite simply they can’t. They can’t phone the organisations awarding the grants as by the time they finish work the offices are closed and then the volunteers have a few hours when they are tired after working all day and whilst looking after a family to try and fill out the forms.

An organisation’s worthiness to receive an award shouldn’t be based on the amount of employees they have or the size of their offices but the actual difference they can make. With many big organisations you would be surprised by how much of the money they make through donations and winning grants goes to paying admin staff, costs, office space and PR campaigns. I would say a good 95% of charities and not for profits can not afford any of that as it would be not financially sensible for them to do so. If you are interested to find out where your money goes to go to the Charity Commission website or Companies House website where you can get annual reports for free or at a small cost for every registered organisation. One thing I would strongly advise is, if you are donating money to an organisation and you are worried where your money is going, to specifically say in writing that you want that money spent on a certain area.

Now I have always been brought up that the right way to set up a charity or not for profit is because there is an area you want to help or change whether that be young people, a disability or a country dealing with poverty and then look for funds to support your organisation. It seems now though that the only way to survive is to look at what grants are out there at the moment and then a tailor an organisation around that award which meets all their criteria.

The Internet has helped smaller organisations a great deal with it now being easier to find out about grants through search engines and to be able to download forms instead of having to do it via the post. However it seems many people are now cashing in on this by offering software packages, CDs and websites which you have to pay to use in order to get the latest information and details on grants. These companies guard this information very closely and try to make sure the only way you can find out about them is by buying their product. I think it is a sad world we live in where the charity and not for profit world have been taken over by companies and the race to make more money. Organisations shouldn’t be forced to pay for information for grants that they are able to apply for.

Now there are many conspiracy theorists out there that believe our hosting of the 2012 Olympics is robbing many organisations of money which I’m not going to comment on either way. All I can say is that we seem to be living in an era where the goalposts are getting changed on a regular basis and grants are getting harder and harder to apply for and to win. It’s like now to become a registered charity you have to have an annual income of £5000 coming in to your charity. To get £5000 many organisations need to apply for grants to get this sort of money but for most grants they expect you to be a registered charity so although they are doing all the things a charity should be they can’t become a registered charity because of their finances so can’t apply for the grant.

Now I am not denying that there are valid reasons why it is so hard to win grants and to become a registered charity as it helps stop a lot of cowboy organisations or dishonest people getting involved but they need to find ways of doing this without penalising the good people and good organisations.

The one thing to remember though if you are an organisation who is currently applying for grants is that they aren’t a long term financial solution to your financial needs and can’t provide you sustainability. Grants are good for one off projects but if you are using them to fund long term projects and the grants are only allowed to be used within a year period then the next year it leaves you with a big financial hole to fill as many granting bodies will only let you apply once or at least have a few years year break before you are allowed to apply again. It is ok to start off your first year with a grant but during that year you need to be thinking of ways you can generate that kind of funding through other means like fundraising events, sponsors etc. which is more sustainable and that you control so that in the second year your financial future is secure.

That brings an end to my rant I hope this has given all of you some food for thought this week.

To get involved in our weekly discussion on this matter go to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Talented Young People is one year old!

This week marks the first birthday of Talented Young People. We started with a bang last year on fireworks night and haven’t looked back since. With no government, grant or corporate funding Talented Young people has grown like wildfire thanks to the support of you guys our viewers and our users.

We started off only attracting one hundred people a week to the site but now thanks to support from organisations like the BBC we now receive 2,000 unique viewers a week and in one year have helped close to 50,000 young people get that step closer to their dream.

In a world where the internet has been used for so many unlawful or just unpleasant acts like spreading viruses, spamming your inbox or committing identity fraud I think it is important that we get more websites online that want to help people. At the end of the day you aren’t going to stop people from using the Internet we are never going to win that battle but if we can create more websites that are there to help people we are going to make going on the Internet a safer and more helpful experience. The Internet needs to be used as a tool to educate, motivate and inspire young people.

A vast majority of young people now use the Internet and big corporate companies know this so they are using the Internet to target this important audience. This is another reason why it is so important that there are websites on the Internet, which aren’t driven by corporate greed, and that put young people first and whose sole purpose is to help young people.

The one thing that any website or online entity that is designed to help young people has to remember is that although many young people use and have access to the internet there is a large population of young people that don’t have the internet at home and it is often these that need help and need to be reached the most. Just because the Internet is popular with young people it doesn’t mean always that it is the only way or the right way to help young people.

The one thing though with the Internet that amazes me is the amount of people that have visited who have been helped, inspired or motivated by what they have read. With any website the amount of people hat get in touch with the people who run the website is a very small percentage of the total number of people who visit the site this is why sometimes you never know how many people you have truly helped. I just think that it’s great that at any time of the day and in any part of the globe somebody could be logging on to the website and without me ever knowing could be using the information and the motivational words to achieve their dreams. Whenever I get up in the morning I could have already helped 100 people whilst I was asleep which I think is an amazing thing and the true power of the Internet. Some people are afraid to wont ask people for help and this is why I think the internet is such a great tool as it provides a degree of anonymity for the user to seek help and advice without having to go and ask someone or for those that live in rural areas where it may be a long drive to find an expert to speak to.

I have big hopes for Talented Young People in the next year which have been helped by the change in command at the top with new Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In many of his speeches he has talked about wanting to create a country with young people who have aspirations and that are encouraged to follow their dreams and find their talents. He has also talked about bringing back the old school mottos which I think is a good thing and one day I would love to see our motto “envisage it, believe it, achieve it!” used in schools across the country. It is good to have a prime minister who has the same visions as we do as an organisation. Never has there been a more important or better time for the Talented Young People organisation to exist in.

So here’s to a brilliant first year at and I for one can’t wait to see some of the exciting things we have planned for the new year.

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"