Our Reason To Be...
Enabling People To Achieve Their Full Potential
Since the beginning, it’s been our aim to make a difference in the lives of young care leavers. Regardless of background and circumstances, we’re here to help them make some momentum, find their way in the world and realise their individual potential.
is to enable care-experienced young people to achieve their full potential through sustainable and fulfilling employment.
Why We Do It
We all remember the day we leave home. It’s a heady mix of excitement and apprehension at striking out in the adult world alone. But the trouble is, some of us are exactly that–alone–without the safety net of mum and dad, or gran and grandad to help dish out a little bit of advice, some support or even just a hug.
There are about 80.000 children in care in England, with some 10,000 aged 16-18 branching out on their own in every year. And we’re determined to make sure that they have the support and help they need to stand confidently on their own two feet and not be thwarted by low expectations of what they can actually achieve.
Where We Come From
Drive Forward Foundation’s origins lie with Partners in Hope, a UK charity founded in 1993 working with vulnerable children and young people in Russia, specifically helping young people from institutional orphanage care. Back then, young people would typically leave care with reasonable educational qualifications but no independent living skills and limited job opportunities. Of the 500 orphan graduates in Moscow each year only 10% would make it through to a normal job and family life. Our work was about finding and creating higher education and job opportunities, developing an environment for real and lasting change on behalf of these young people.
When it was no longer politically viable to work in Russia, our founder, Martha Wansbrough, transferred the hard-won corporate partnerships and opportunities to UK care leavers. After 4 months of research and consultations, she set up a job brokerage helping young London care leavers without professional networks to begin their careers.
It soon emerged that care-experienced young people in London were lacking much more than professional networks and life skills. Educational attainment, levels of health and wellbeing, and employment prospects are all significantly lower for care leavers than for the general population, while instances of homelessness, criminal behaviour and teenage pregnancy are considerably higher.
As a result of these learnings, our first employment training and personal development programme launched in 2010. Over time, we found that more fundamental training and holistic support was required to enable these young people to build fulfilling lives for themselves. In 2012, we began offering additional practical/emotional 1-2-1 support, focusing on positive, consistent, and long-term relationships to instil security, build confident, and boost young people’s motivation.
We haven’t looked back since, inspiring, motivating and supporting hundreds of care-experienced young people as they make their momentum.
Our founder - Martha Wansbrough
Maggie is a Co-Founder and for many years was Co-CEO of Flamingo, a consumer insight agency which is part of the Omnicom Group. She has expertise in consumer research and brand communications. Flamingo had a long standing relationship with Drive Forward and Maggie has seen at first hand the life changing work of the charity and the valuable contribution care leavers bring to a business. In 2017 Maggie exited Flamingo and with more time to give was delighted to join Drive Forward as a Trustee.
Tracy Lee - Chair
Currently at the helm of communications in DCMS, Tracy is one of Whitehall's most experienced comms directors. She has worked in several Government departments advising ministers at the highest levels on strategic comms, media handling and crisis management. She was the architect of the award winning First World War commemoration campaign and has led high profile marketing campaigns including for Super fast broadband take up. Before Whitehall she worked in TV production on variety of lifestyle and comedy programmes. Passionate about social mobility she is Trustee of the Drive Forward Foundation a charity that supports care leavers into work.
Marie currently leads on Corporate Social Responsibility at BDO, an accountancy and business advisory firm. She heads up CSR, Citizenship, Social Mobility and Wellbeing. Marie has considerable experience across both corporate social responsibility and not-for-profit roles, giving her a strong understanding of how to create meaningful cross-sector partnerships that drive benefits for all involved. Marie actively supports Drive Forward’s corporate engagement work, which includes mentoring staff and young people, and sharing her professional network of contacts.
Jordan currently works as the UK Programme Manager at Forward Thinking, a charity founded with the aim of helping to facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular political worlds. In the UK, he advises grassroots Muslim communities on how to engage with both the Establishment (parliamentarians, policy makers and the national media) and wider British society without fearing the loss of their faith identity. He also works on the Middle East Programme, the prime focus of which is to promote a more inclusive peace process through dialogue with key Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders and political/religious leaders who previously had been unengaged. He has previously worked in a think tank specialising in radicalisation and political violence. He joined the trustee board to provide alternative perspectives and play his part in achieving the mission of the Drive Forward Foundation.
Clive Pitts - Treasurer
Clive is a successful Finance Director and Management Consultant with over 40 years’ experience delivering profitable business solution in diverse and rapidly changing environments. He worked for a number of large organisations including Shell, Ernst & Young and Cap Gemini before becoming part of the leadership team of an innovative welfare to work company. In his later role as International Business Director Clive implemented new operations in Poland, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Since returning to the UK Clive has delivered large business transformation projects before retiring from the commercial world in 2020. Clive has been supporting Drive Forward for 8 years leading the development of the first strategic plan, implementing robust financial system, and now a committed board member.
Drive Forward Ambassadors are people who have gone through our services and are now using their experience, networks and knowledge to drive positive change in the care system.
As an Ambassador you will:
– support our charity providing valuable feedback and advice on our service offer, programme development and engagement;
– raise the public profile of Drive Forward by representing us at events and conferences;
– attend quarterly meetings and respond to requests and surveys from the team;
– put forward your ideas and suggestions relevant to the topic at hand;
– be part of or support the Policy Forum in their mission to communicate the disconnect between policy makers and the reality for care leavers;
– meet with representatives from political institutions, partner organisations, activists and young people from across the country;
– take part in discussions and events in Westminster, the Greater London Authority, and other institutions to achieve positive change.