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The RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme is giving young, disadvantaged people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and develop new skills
Last year, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) awarded a grant of £15,000 from its Stepping Stones scheme to the British Schools Exploring Society. This charity aims to advance the education of young people by providing inspirational and challenging expeditions to remote, wild environments. The expeditions develop confidence, teamwork and leadership, and foster a spirit of adventure and exploration. The grant was awarded specifically to support the Dangoor Next Generation Programme, a joint outreach initiative with youth charity Catch22.
The RMTGB grant enabled some of the country’s most disadvantaged young people to participate in an overseas expedition. All of the participants have experienced a difficult childhood, but the programme provides them with a unique opportunity to develop the skills they need to seize new opportunities. Last year, 60 young people took part in the programme which involved training in remote areas of England, Wales and Scotland, before commanding a tall ship across the North Sea to Norway. The return voyage concluded on the River Thames following a spectacular pass through Tower Bridge. Following the completion of each expedition, the programme continues to assist participants by helping them into employment or training or supporting them to return to education.
The lasting effect of the programme is best explained by the participants themselves. ‘It was an amazing experience,’ says Nadia, ‘it made me realise who I am as a person and it was good to challenge myself.’ Another participant, Alfie, explains how the project has changed his life: ‘It’s given me so much confidence that I’ve gone back to college and now also volunteer on the ship. It’s made me so happy to have been part of the project.’
The RMTGB’s grant enabled 15 young people to participate on the 2011 expedition. The grant will also support the same number of disadvantaged young people on the 2012 expedition to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where participants will learn to navigate by the stars and camp with the Bedouin in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
Since its launch, Stepping Stones has awarded more than £230,000 to around 15 charities, with additional funds available to award further grants this year. The RMTGB is only able to make these grants because of the generosity of its supporters. Through their donations and fundraising, Freemasons and their families are making a valuable contribution to the development, education and future career prospects of disadvantaged young people in wider society.
Please visit the website www.rmtgb.org to find out how you can support this work