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.
Unlocking potential, broadening horizons and breaking down barriers for care-experienced young people.
To enable care-experienced young people to achieve their full potential and access sustainable 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 over 83,000 children in care in the UK, with 10,000 aged 16-18 branching out on their own in 2013. 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 Came From
Drive Forward was originally called Partners in Hope, a UK charity founded in 1993 which has been working with vulnerable children and young people for the past 20 years. Its work was focused in Russia, specifically helping young people from institutional orphanage care.
Typically, young people will leave, what is for most a lifetime in 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% will make it through to a normal job/family life.
Our work was about finding and creating higher education and job opportunities with a view to challenging the statistics and 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 wanted to make the most of the hard-won corporate relationships to transfer the opportunities to UK care leavers and after 4 months of research Drive Forward was set up as a job brokerage in 2010 to help young London care leavers without professional networks to begin their careers.
So, in 2010, after months of carrying out research on the challenges facing young care leavers in the UK, we launched our first employment training and personal development programme in London. As it emerged that more fundamental training and holistic support was required, Drive Forward was launched to provide more practical and emotional support to care leavers, helping them develop key skills, confidence and motivation for work, education or training.
That was in 2012 and we haven’t looked back since, inspiring, motivating and supporting hundreds of young care leavers as they make their momentum.
Martha has been working with disadvantaged young people for over 15 years. From Russia to the UK, she has worked with local experts and corporate partners to develop programmes that help young people live more independently. Martha founded the UK Genesis Programme in April 2010, which has since evolved into the Drive Forward programme. When Martha is not at work she is foraging and trying to become self-sufficient in the forests and fields of Normandy.
Anton has spent most of his career in operational roles in the commercial market, exiting his own sales and project management business in 2009 to pursue roles in the third sector. He then spent four years working in homelessness services, trying to motivate change in the most vulnerable to show that their past does not need to equal their future. He is happiest when trying to track down that elusive gem in second-hand record stores.
Head Of Corporate Engagement
Lucy was working with one of Drive Forward’s corporate partners when she first heard about the work we do. In 2016, she got involved in organising Aim Higher Days and interviewing young people at HR Speed Dating events. Fast-forward time, she proudly joins the team as Head of Corporate Engagement in March 2018. Originally from Canada, Lucy has now made London and England her new home after completing her Certificate in Human Resources in 2016. Coming from a multi range background of Human Resources, Administration and Retail Banking, Lucy has a strong passion for making others smile and strives for others to see the best in themselves. Lucy’s number one passion is travelling and she has explored over 30 countries so far (including Scotland and Wales!). When not jet-setting, Lucy loves to cook, paint and bake all things to add a smile.
Heaven was born and raised in Eritrea, but came to the UK to study, graduating in Politics and International Relations. She has since gained work experience with legal advisors, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as working as an HR Manager for a school in London and fund-raising for her university. She loves Bollywood movies, savours Lithuanian cuisine and adores nothing more than a lazy afternoon listening to Jazz or reading a book about political humour.
Rachel spent 13 years working within the corporate sector but was keen to use her persuasive nature to do something more rewarding. Interested in issues surrounding social equality and mobility, she was inspired to start a career in the charity sector. Since 2010 she has been a Programme Manager helping people at a disadvantage get into employment. Rachel is a huge fan of stand-up comedy and has an almost photographic memory for trivial historic facts. Although she has been known to take the odd Kickboxing, Zumba and tennis class she really is much happier in a pub with a roof terrace or log fire and a gin and tonic of an evening.
Felix has a background in advice and guidance with charitable organisations and believes passionately in supporting people to achieve their full potential and engage positively with the barriers that hold them back. He loves listening to jazz and can play a decent blues on the saxophone!
After finishing her Master’s degree in American Literature in 2017, Nicholl has focused mainly on charity work and campaigning. She firmly believes in the power of young peoples voices and their ability to shape the world around them. When she isn’t at work, Nicholl enjoys reading, drawing, editing and exploring the city.
Fundraising & Communications
After graduating from the University of Vienna, Juno started working for a non-profit organisation which supports youth employment and training projects worldwide. She then came to London to continue her studies and decide to stay a little longer. As an avowed Francophile and humanist she strongly believes in liberty, equality and fraternity, as well as justice and solidarity. On the weekends you may find Juno running around London with her camera trying to find the 'extra' in ordinary.
Head of Political Engagement
Rory has worked in Parliament, the Human Rights Sector and helped in the creation and running of a charity for homeless refugees in Paris. He enjoys working directly with young people and is always looking for ways for them to have their voices listened to on a wider scale. After finishing his Masters degree in Human Rights at Sciences Po Paris in July 2017 he is eager to help bring about real and meaningful change to vulnerable people’s lives. Outside of work, Rory is an avid reader and rock climbing enthusiast.
Youth Programme Manager
Francis has spent over 15 years supporting young people in a wide variety of settings, both statutory and third sector. As an adopted adult with early years care experience, he is passionate about supporting children and young people who are growing up, or have grown up, away from their birth parents. As a qualified NLP coach and trainer, he has managed to translate his own personal experiences of childhood, together with his years of experience as a youth worker, to develop a model of coaching that works at a deep level, helping his clients to understand themselves, in particular their thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This enables them to generate the results that they desire in life. Francis enjoys keeping fit, reading, eating out and likes nothing more than crashing on his sofa and watching old films that remind him of his childhood years.
Head Of Youth Engagement
Megan’s background is in politics and worked as a researcher in Parliament prior to joining the team. Before that, she studied Sociology where she researched social inequality and learning projects for vulnerable adults in Bristol. Megan wanted to join Drive Forward so that she could put her passion for social change into action, motivated by the belief that all young people have the potential to achieve great things. When she’s not at work, Megan is most happy practising yoga, eating pizza or putting the world to rights at the pub.
Travon has known Drive Forward since 2015 when he first came to us looking for support. He has since been an engaged member of the ambassador’s group and our Policy Forum. He is a strong believer in the power of lived experience to drive change and progress; highlighting the struggles young people face under government protection. His own journey has made him so much more aware of the struggle and pain of others, but also of how society looks at care-experienced people. A word that’s often used in conjunction with the care-experienced is “resilience”. But Travon refuses to accept this term, as he believes that it adds to the many misconceptions, prejudices and stigmas attached to the tag “care experienced”. He uses his experience and passion to drive change to highlight the voices of young people in his capacity as Drive Forward’s Communications Assistant.
Justin has over 10 years’ experience working with hard to reach young people around the capital. Coming from a sports background, he moved from starting a successful youth football team to delivering anti knife crime workshops around the country. Justin has been part of a team that helped mediate peace between rival gangs in West London and uses his own experiences to help those he works with get positive outcomes. Fun fact: Justin can balance a ball on his head for 5 minutes without dropping it (Follow us on Instagram to see whether that’s true or not!).
Youth Programme Manager
Stacey has worked in the criminal justice system for the past 10 years and has created and delivered numerous drama and employability projects through her own Social Enterprise. Stacey worked in her first prison at 19. Since then, Stacey has worked in various roles within the criminal justice sector all of which involved supporting vulnerable young people and managing intervention projects. Stacey has also worked with young people internationally when she taught English and Drama in Hong Kong. She studied at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and uses her drama and creative skills in everything that she does. Stacey has found a new hobby in bouldering and just loves falling off walls and getting bruised most weekends.
For the last 15 years, Tom has worked in different roles - from banking to retail and setting up his training and consultancy business. At the same time, he worked with young refugees in the community, which lead him to set up a bespoke training course for young refugees and migrants to build their confidence. He then launched another programme aimed at helping individuals develop the necessary skills to get started in their new home. Tom’s passionate about empowering people in developing countries. Using his own wealth of experience, he’s built a resource centre in Liberia where people can access training and equipment. He continuously supports young people in the country and helps young entrepreneurs develop their skills via online workshops and coaching. When Tom is not working on his mission to support and empower people and make the world a better place, you can find him (most noticeably) on the dance-floor. He’s the guy swinging his hips so be warned, because Tom believes life is a dance: you just need to find your tune, which is something he can help with.
Guy De Selliers
Guy is President and Co-founder of HCF International Advisers Ltd. With a wealth of experience in the banking sector, he served as Chief Executive Officer of MC BBL Investment Bank (1997 to 1998), Deputy Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1991 to 1997) and Chairman and Head of Europe of Fleming Investment Bank (1998 to 2000). He is currently on the Boards of Fortis and Solvay S.A. Guy has been involved with Drive Forward since 1997.
Damian is a Director of Asian Sales and Board member of CLSA (UK) Ltd; Asia’s leading Independent Agency Broker. Damian has worked in the financial sector for 25 years, starting with Cazenove & Co (1989 to 1994). He has been with CLSA for the last 20 years, principally on the equity sales side, but has also managed the UK sales desk and been Managing Director of the London Office.More recently Damian has been appointed as the UK representative of the CLSA Chairman’s Trust (a Charitable foundation) which over the last seven years has distributed $25m USD globally to NGO’s working to alleviate poverty and educate and improve the lives of young people. The Trust is delighted to be a supporter of the Drive Forward Foundation.
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.
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.
Helen is the founder of Parkhouse Bell, an international recruitment company, that specialises in providing senior executives to organisations that are involved in the employability and skills sectors. Parkhouse Bell’s clients include private and publicly listed training companies, charities and funding organisations that help people into work and provide training to those in or preparing for work, many of whom are young people. Helen uses this experience and her network to make connections useful to Drive Forward and to help the organisation stay abreast of changes to government policy and practices in these constantly changing areas. Prior to starting her career in recruitment and headhunting in 2002, Helen was an educator in Australia for 10 years teaching business related subjects and is a published author of Accounting textbooks – something she doesn’t use as a conversation starter when meeting new people!
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.
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.