Meet the charities benefitting from the Shoosmiths Foundation

“Youth is the hope of our future.” After all, as we increasingly grow old in the West, who else will be generating the wealth to keep funding our pensions?

But at present the world appears far from an oyster to many young people in our country.

Youth unemployment in the UK stands at 11.2%, compared to 4.2% for the general population, and 80% of councils struggle to place young people into homes, meaning they are left with no choice but to rent privately.

But there is no area in England where renting privately is affordable for people on the minimum wage.

For many, in particular for those whose lives so far have been blighted by inter-generational poverty, neglect and abuse, there is no Mum or Dad to call upon for a room, let alone any Bank of Mum and Dad.

Last year 122,000 young people asked for help with homelessness and during the pandemic Centrepoint’s helpline spoke with many who were getting furloughed – almost 2/3 of the people who lost their jobs during the pandemic were under 25 – and heard of family tensions exacerbated by everyone being under the same roof during the various lockdowns with no opportunity to sofa surf, leading to increased pressure.

What happens to those who leave school without qualifications or who don’t even finish school? Are many destined to end up on the streets? Our society with its emphasis on rote learning isn’t serving the needs of those young people – or of employers who continue to question the work-readiness of even our most academically-qualified.

The Shoosmiths Foundation was launched in June 2021 with three key themes, including advancing social mobility in the legal sector and across the UK, in line with the firm’s social mobility action plan which, recognising that Britain is a hugely socially immobile country, has committed to improving social mobility for both employees and the communities they serve to ensure the business maintains its long-term sustainability by promoting integrity and valuing diversity and an inclusive culture.

In 2021 the Foundation’s first grants – totalling £90,000 – were awarded to End Youth Homelessness and to Street League, and last week Shoosmiths’ staff heard from speakers representing these first grantees about how they are working to improve the social mobility prospects for disadvantaged young people.

End Youth Homelessness is a group of 11 youth homelessness charities (including Centrepoint) around the UK who have joined forces to tackle a crisis, working on the premise that a job is the surest way of breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Collectively these charities house and support over 40,000 16-25 year olds each year and do so by:

  • putting a safe, warm and stable roof over their heads;
  • helping them to overcome their traumatic past with specialist mental and physical health support;
  • funding intensive 1:1 support so young people can find jobs or gain qualifications; and
  • ensuring that young people move into their own homes and don’t become homeless again.

Pairing a young person with a job coach is key to building that person’s confidence and self-esteem, when to date they may not have had positive role models to look up to or support networks that believe in their ability to succeed. Job coaches can help to go some way to levelling the job playing field – or rather, to enable people to get on the field in the first place – for example, by looking to ringfence job interview opportunities to enable young people to showcase their incredible resilience, even if they may not have the qualifications or polished CV to match peers who have progressed through Further and High Education pathways.

Street League is a charity starting from the premise that the skills needed to succeed in real life and work are often different from those taught in exams and classrooms, and that while traditional schooling and exams are the most common way to begin a young person’s career, they are not the only route.

The charity believes that futures can be made outside the classroom – in particular on the playing field, because sport is a great way to learn valuable skills for life and for the world of work, instilling positivity and confidence to achieve goals.

It works in schools and communities with young people at risk of future unemployment and supports them into high-quality employment, training or education and, crucially, supports young people once they have moved into work.

Street League adopts a holistic approach by providing 12 months’ aftercare support to young people in work and their employers, because it recognises that there are no quick fixes and that those young people often need support as they start out in paid employment, maybe to help in that first month of employment before they can access their first universal credit payment.

End Youth Homelessness is an example of charities coming together, to share experiences and learning from around the country and of raising awareness of such an important issue and the funds to address it.

In a similar vein, Street League collaborates with others to support young people. It works hard to ensure they are ready to participate in 12-16 week intensive programmes and most participants do complete them. But the charity will adapt to those who for whatever reason may not be able to do so, where appropriate referring young people to other charities and agencies for specialist mental health support, and perhaps welcoming them back later, onto specially tailored programmes with reduced timetables.

The Shoosmiths Foundation is specifically supporting EYJH’s Employability Programme and its funding to Street League is giving more than 50 young people a chance to gain Maths and English GCSEs, complemented by that charity’s wrap around support.

“Talent can come from anywhere” but the work the Shoosmiths Foundation supports is not all about finding the next Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer who famously went from a log cabin to the White House. It is about enabling everyone to aspire to be the best they can be, giving them self-worth and a livelihood. The last word goes to Nathan, helped by Street League in Leeds:

“I never saw myself working a full-time job and I am proud to say that I now have a full time job.”


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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