His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex visits local social enterprise, the Guildford Bike Project

28th June 2018

Peter Cluff, Chairman of our Guildford Philanthropy Fund reflects on the Royal visit to the Guildford Bike Project, a social enterprise supported by the Fund that helps local, disadvantaged individuals with a passion for all things bike!

His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex this week visited one of the projects which represents the work Guildford Philanthropy undertakes to give opportunity and tackle need across the Borough of Guildford.

The Guildford Bike Project is a social enterprise set up by the Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership which, since its inception, has received grants from Guildford Philanthropy and from three other funds that are managed by the Community Foundation for Surrey.

The Bike Project refurbishes donated bikes, provides free skills, accredited training and work experience for local jobseekers and young people. The bikes are then sold to the local community at an affordable price and the income is “recycled” to sustain the project. In the six years that the project has been running, over 400 people have benefited from the project with 106 achieving an accredited qualification and 58 having gone into work.

Guildford Philanthropy is a local initiative which aims to transform the lives of less fortunate members of our community and address the disadvantage that exists on our doorstep. We seek to do this by supporting enterprises like the Bike Project, which delivers training opportunities, jobs and other benefits to local people in need of help whether due to poor education, disability or mental illness. Building confidence and self-esteem by facilitating access into a working environment and by encouraging the development of new skills, gives those most in need the tools to improve their lives.

Though an affluent borough, many people would not know that Guildford has nearly 2,400 children living in poverty, 9,400 unpaid carers and nearly 6,000 adults without qualifications, which is why we believe that mentoring support and the provision of helpful advice in many cases is as important as providing sole funding. Guildford Philanthropy has recently expanded its Panel Membership to enable more of us to go out into the community to hear directly what is needed. This proactive stance is also displayed by the fund actively seeking to involve Guildford Borough Council, local businesses and the University of Surrey in a co-ordinated way to help address local need.

However, raising awareness remains the biggest challenge. Guildford Philanthropy and the Community Foundation for Surrey can only help to change lives through the generous support of donors; widening that donor base and informing local people of the need that exists here in Surrey is of paramount importance. Guildford Borough Council have generously set up a match funding scheme to encourage residents to become local philanthropists. For every donation to Guildford Philanthropy, the Council will increase it by 50%.

It is possible to make a donation by following the link below and help us in our work; giving opportunity and tackling need.

mydonate.bt.com/charities/guildfordphilanthropy

It was a pleasure to have The Earl visit us and engage with all those involved in the project. We hope to see him again in the not too distant future!

If you are a social enterprise within Guildford Borough looking for support, please contact the Foundation.
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