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Give everyone a chance to go to Uni

Ben Darlington | 12 February 16

Last year I spent an afternoon with one of our amazing charities, Drive Forward Foundation, running an CV workshop for youngsters leaving the care system. I was struck by some of the challenges but overall left feeling very inspired: my experience and writing skills meant we were able to do some great work within a short space of time.

The experience left me empowered and wanting to do more, so last September I signed up to become a tutor with The Access Project. It’s a great program because it support students earlier in their school career, helping them improve their grades and ultimately their chances of getting into a top-class university.

As a state-school kid and a Cambridge graduate this is a topic pretty close to my heart; there were a disproportionally large number of Tarquins and Annabelles at my college but I understand that for things to change, youngsters need to supported in their aspirations to attend top Unis much earlier.

So now I tutor a lad in year 10 every Wednesday; working on his English literature GCSE. It’s a real pleasure revisiting texts like An Inspector Calls and Romeo and Juliet as a post-graduate, and I think I’m able to really communicate that enthusiasm for the stories, context and language to my tutee. We spend a lot of time simply closely reading the texts and getting a really good understanding.

“Having tutors who really believe in you – that’s invaluable. It’s that support and inspiration that really make the difference.”

Access Project Tutee

I’ve done about 12 lessons now, and although the Access Project suggest that 20 weeks is when improvement begins to really show, I think my tutee is coming on in leaps and bounds. If getting a 14 year old laughing out loud at Shakespeare’s jokes isn’t success, I don’t know what is!

If you’ve enjoyed volunteering with young people, I’d really recommend looking at making a regular commitment and tutoring through an organisation like the Access Project.

I’d also like to draw attention to a campaign that the charity is running.

Throughout February, they are part of a Pledgit campaign, where every £1 donated to support the work of The Access Project will very kindly be matched by TalentPool, up to a maximum of £300.

£10 covers the cost of taking one student on a day trip to visit a highly selective university

£20 provides one textbook to a tutor to assist their tutorials

£50 would enable 5 students to travel to and from their tutorials for a month

This is a really valuable cause and if you’re looking for a charity where you’ll get impact for your donation, look no further. The campaign runs until 29 February.

Click here to visit the campaign page.

Ben Darlington looks after new partnerships and possibilities at Benefacto. He has been involved with the project since its inception back in 2012, building the website and developing the graphic design. He is always looking for ways for charities, businesses and social enterprises to work together. If you'd like to work with Benefacto talk to Ben at ben@benefacto.org.

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