Lloyds Banking Group backs project to help youngsters escape gangs

Taking a stand: Sharla Duncan helps students mentor young people in deprived areas

Taking a stand: Sharla Duncan helps students mentor young people in deprived areas

A social enterprise helping young people escape gangs, a producer of books for the blind and a start-up refurbishing abandoned bicycles for refugees were among the enterprises to win financial backing from Lloyds Banking Group’s School for Social Entrepreneurs this month.

Launched in April, the scheme will see 150 social entrepreneurs receive support every year for the next five years. There are 130 ‘Start Up’ awards, which include a grant of £4,000 and a place on a learning programme with a mentor from Lloyds.
In addition, 20 ‘Scale Up’ grants of £15,000 have been awarded.

And one applicant, to be announced next year, will receive £25,000.

Sharla Duncan, 25, from Croydon, south London, has won £4,000 to develop Yelp Students, an initiative to give students experience in mentoring young people in deprived areas.

So far Sharla, who is studying for a masters in educational research methodology at Oxford University, has had funding from Bank of America Merill Lynch and education charity Teach First for informal volunteering schemes. She says: ‘I will use the new money to create flyers, banners and a website to recruit more students.’

The Garden Classroom in Islington, north London, won £15,000 to scale up a project to let children in inner London learn more about nature.

Marnie Rose, 45, set up the project in 2008 in response to reports that children in Britain are experiencing ‘nature deficit disorder’.

The idea of engaging urban communities with nature by offering workshops, events and courses evolved from Marnie’s volunteer work creating an inner-city garden.

Marnie says The Garden Classroom will also allow teachers to introduce their pupils to gardening. Volunteers have already been trained as workshop leaders by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Eileen Finch, 58, launched Access2books in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, to make 30 children’s books in giant print and braille with illustrations. As a blind grandmother, she was driven by her desire to read to her grandchildren. She has had orders from bookshops and libraries from her website.

And in Oxford, Jem Stein, 24, aims to provide refugees who don’t have access to transport with abandoned bikes. He hopes Refugee Bike will generate income through repair services offered to the public.