You can benefit greatly from training or further study. Whether or not you are already established in a career, a spell at college can be a real boost to your future prospects, and can be fun too.
Whilst we are all agreed on the benefits of further study, not all of us are in the position to take such a step. Fees can be high, even for "fun" rather than work orientated evening courses at your local college.
Don't give up! There are still options available to you. Hundreds of charities and trusts have money bequeathed to them in order to help someone - someone just like you, to progress.
Charities have funds allocated to help towards course fees or the costs of equipment, such as a computer, or to help pay for clothing or travel expenses.
Those are 3,500 charities in the UK with funds available, so there is bound to be one to help you.
Turn 2 Us
The place to go to is Turn to Us at www.turn2us.org.uk. Here, you can find a searchable database with details of every charity and trust in the UK as well as details of their grant criteria. Simply input your age, gender and location and the search engine will do the rest for you. Below is a guide to how charities are divvied up.
Many of the charities are assigned to geographical areas. Benefactors typically like to leave money to raising educational attainment in the town that they grew up in, and you will find that much of the eligibility criteria is associated to living in a particular town or city. Get started to see what is available in your area and launch the grant search here - http://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk
If the charity is not closely associated to a geographical area, it could be linked to a special characteristic such as age, ethnicity, disability, gender or experience. For example, you might be eligible for a specific grant if you have had an experience such as being a carer, being vulnerably housed, or if you are from a non-traditional background.
Another example: those wanting to train as a journalist who are from a non-privileged background can apply for their fees to be covered by The Journalism Diversity Fund NCTJ here www.journalismdiversityfund.co.uk.
If the charity or trust is not related to either location or special characteristics it will be linked to a career or "guild" - an organized charity group that supports people who have joined together because they share the same career. This means finding the charity will be relatively easy - just search for the charities and trusts that support people to enter them. There is a lot of support to join certain careers, especially in health professions.
How to apply
The charity you select will detail their application requirements on the website - most will ask for a letter with a completed application form. Despite the technological revolution seen in business, the third sector is a little behind. You might see a lot of charities offering postal options instead of email. Don't be put off by poorly designed websites either! Charities don't have the resources or the need to be as slick as the business sector.
Often, a trust fund can be large yet the staffing in place to manage it will be small. It is not unusual for one secretary to be assigned to the role of looking after the fund. The grant allocation is dealt with by a board of trustees who meet regularly, as often as once a month, to divvy our grants and funds. Nice job!
What to write
If you need to write a letter, here is a fictional example to guide you -
Dear Trustees of the charity,
My name is Alecia and I am 26 years old. I work as an administrator and I have lived in Croydon for the last 10 years.
I would really like to become more qualified and skilled in the area that I work, and be able to apply for more challenging jobs. At the moment I am held back by my lack of qualifications.
The course I would like to enrol on is the Business Administration course Level 3 at the London Business Administration college.
The cost of the course is £750. I have a total income of £14,000 and live alone in a rented flat.
I did not have the opportunity to study at college as I cared for a sick relative. I would really appreciate the opportunity to train, to become qualified and to be in a position to apply for better paid work.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.
If you need guidance in selecting a charity, take the Turn to Us website address to your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help. You can search for your local CAB here and book an appointment -. Alternatively, you can also contact me for help too, especially for advice on how to write the letter and what to include in it.
You only need to invest your time, and you might find yourself receiving a helping hand from a local trust or charity to reach that goal you thought was always out of reach.
There are all sorts of charities out there, many with their roots in the 19th Century. There is a charity called the Society for Ladies in Reduced Circumstances to help women in need, there's one in memory of Earnest Shackleton – the explorer - to fund aspiring leaders. There's even a charity for retired race horse riders too.
Get started today. There's bound to be one charity among the 3,500 for you.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Shackleton Foundation Trust
Society for Ladies in Reduced Circumstances