The City & Guilds Group has announced it is providing grants to The Girls’ Network and Sova, as well as a one-off investment to East Coast FM, as part of its £5m Skills Development Fund. The Fund, which launched in September 2015, supports projects and communities to create long-term, sustainable change by improving skills across the world.

The Girls’ Network has been awarded £101,140 over three years to support its work in connecting girls from the most disadvantaged communities throughout England with a mentor and a network of female role models. The charity works with girls aged 14-19 and focuses on developing their knowledge, skills and confidence, providing them with opportunities that they would otherwise not have access to. The work of the charity is cemented in the belief that every girl should be ambitious about their future, regardless of their gender or financial situation.

Since 1975, Sova has been working tirelessly to make a positive difference to the lives of people who have a broad range of complex needs, such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependency, unemployment and homelessness. The charity has been granted £160,672 over three years to fund its project in partnership with Birmingham Youth Offending Service and the West Midlands Police, which will support young people in the community who are at risk of offending and not engaged in education or training.

A one-off investment to support a small, innovative, volunteer-led charity will also be made to East Coast FM. Last year, East Coast FM received a Princess Royal Training Award from the City & Guilds Group in recognition of its commitment to advancing the education of local young people through participation in the radio station.

Speaking about the investments, Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Vice-Chairman of the City & Guilds Group and Chair of the Skills Development Fund Committee, said: ‘Through the Skills Development Fund we support organisations who share our passion for skills and the difference gaining them can bring to people. Along with the other projects we support, we are confident that SOVA and The Girls Network will make a difference to the lives they touch.’

Charly Young, CEO and Co-Founder of The Girls’ Network said:We are really excited about the opportunity to expand the impact of our work, ensuring that girls across the country are informed and supported to realise their ambitions. The funding from the City & Guilds Group will enable us to increase the diversity of background and career path in our pool of mentors and role models. We believe it is essential for all girls and young women to be able to see someone that they can relate to succeeding, and see that there is not just one path to a fulfilling future.’

Sova’s Chief Operating Officer, Sophie Wilson, said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded funding through the Skills Development Fund. This project will provide vital support to young offenders and those at risk of offending who face complex barriers to engaging in employment, training or education. Our strength-based intensive mentoring can really make the difference to these young people, and our strong partnerships with the Birmingham Youth Offending Service and West Midlands Police will ensure that we get the right support, to the right young people, at the right time.’

The projects that the City & Guilds Group invests in through the Skills Development Fund must help people get into employment, or progress with employment. The fund invests in projects that are focused around two key themes - supporting women and girls to develop their skills and preventing offending and re-offending.

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