We are a small, streamlined, highly accountable charity who works closely with other partner charities both in Colombia and more recently in the UK to bring about our aims. Over 80% of all our income goes front to line services which directly benefit needy children and youngsters.
All our projects and activities are guided by our mission:
“To contribute to the personal and professional development of underprivileged children and young people living in poverty or disadvantaged circumstances, with a focus on employment and life skills training and mentoring as a means to increase employment potential and the possibility of achieving a more fulfilling and productive life”
DEF’s Partner Charities
We recognise that in order to carry out our aims most effectively it is important to be able to rely on local knowledge and experience. For that reason one of our principal strategies has been to identify and form alliances with respected and trustworthy service delivery partners with shared visions and objectives.
In August 2011 after carrying out extensive research and through contacts with friends in Colombia Dan made contact with the local charity in the city of Cali, Colombia called Foundation Education for All (in Spanish Fundación Educación para Todos or FEDUT.
Recognizing the great potential to carry out partner projects together by forming a strategic alliance Dan made it a priority in his next trip to Colombia las to visit FEDUT to get to know personally the staff and meet the children and young people who benefit from their work.
Since 1996 FEDUT has been successfully supporting children from some of the most marginalised urban communities in Cali. As well as sponsoring them through their primary and secondary schooling they also run vocational and technical training schemes for youngsters from marginalised urban communities who leave school with little or no opportunity to enter into further education. Up to date they have trained 500 young people in IT skills, marketing and business administration, and accountancy, which is currently the most in-demand profession in the region.
In November 2012 we embarked on our first partner project inaugurating our first apprenticeship training scheme in 2012. As a result of its success and the clear demand for well-trained accountants in the region we continue to carry out programmes jointly with FEDUT. Each course trains 30 underprivileged young people in IT and accountancy and includes modules on life skills and values as well as a comprehensive mentorship program. The course is designed to give them the necessary skills to start working as assistant accountants in local companies. The six month program consists of a three-month theoretical phase carried out in the classroom followed by three-month internship under the tutorship of the designated representative of a local firm. Our ultimate aim is that the student stays on in the company where he/she carried out their work experience as a full-time, salaried employee. Since our first course in 2012 we have trained 220 young people as assistant accountants, half of whom are currently in salaried employment in a related field. We started our eighth course for another 30 students in January 2017.
In the UK
In addition to our work in Colombia we support a UK-based skills training charity called in Godalming, Surrey called Skillway. Since 2012 we have been providing bursaries for students to undergo two year ‘masterclass’ course in their chosen craft/trade.
In 2016 we launched our ‘Fresh Start’ programme in conjunction with Surrey Youth Support Services in order to help some of the most disadvantaged young people in the southwest Surrey area. Together we identify youngsters most in need and provide them with the equipment and support services they need help them access education and/or training and ultimately employment.
We want to give these youngsters practical help to enable them to take that first step in turning their life around. Funds raised towards the programme are spent on items such as: suits and/or shoes for job interviews, refurbished laptops so they can work and learn at home, a basic mobile phone, a bicycle to get to training centres or a job interviews, and in some cases towards their Duke of Edinburgh award program.
Over the last year we helped nearly 40 youngsters in the southwest Surrey area obtain the equipment/services they most needed to help them get back in to education, training and/or ultimately employment. In 2017 will be expanding our remit to include homeless young people in response to the sharp rise of homelessness in the UK. Often these youngsters are from broken families and they have been left behind by the conventional academic system.