Blogs

The Foundation welcomes its new chair

The Hymans Robertson Foundation is delighted to announce the appointment of a new chair, Gill Tait.

Gill is People Director and a partner at Hymans Robertson LLP and sits on its Management Board and Partnership Council. Gill was part of the inaugural Foundation Board of Trustees and played a key role in determining the Foundation’s strategy and guidelines.

In this blog, Gill talks about her and the Foundation’s priorities for the future.

“As the incoming chair to the Hymans Robertson Foundation board of trustees, I’m keenly aware of the importance of delivering on our core aims.  These aims have never been more relevant in a time of economic uncertainty, a cost-of-living crisis and the lingering impacts of the Covid pandemic.  Challenges that have hit young people particularly hard.

I have been involved with the Foundation since its inception and am proud of how the trustees have always responded to changing circumstances and the advice of our charity partners who are experts in their field.  The introduction of our bursary and hardship funds have been good examples of this.  As chair, I intend to continue with this approach of working closing with our charity partners and to build that network further so we can make sure that our funding has the greatest impact possible.  We will continue to provide financial support and funding for financial education and employability skills training to young people, drawing on the support of Hymans Robertson LLP colleagues for their volunteering and fundraising contributions, as well as the firm’s ongoing financial support of the Foundation, for which we remain truly grateful.

I’m looking forward to working closely with my fellow board members and our CEO, Marcella Boyle, and I feel fortunate to have their ongoing support and guidance.”

Find out more about Who we support.

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Farewell from Foundation’s retiring Chair

After 3 years in the role of chair of the Hymans Robertson Foundation, and 26 years with Hymans Robertson LLP, Clive Fortes retired in March 2023. In this blog, Clive talks about his time with the Foundation and what challenges the Foundation will face in the future.

“I joined the Foundation Board of trustees in 2018, and when approached to be chair, in 2019, I was delighted to accept the opportunity to help bring a sharper focus to the mission and remit of the Foundation.

I would also say that one of the best and early decisions the Board made in recent years was to appoint a CEO, and we found the perfect person with Marcella Boyle. Marcella brings a wealth of experience in developing and delivering effective and inclusive strategic partnerships, and she is a passionate advocate for the communities that our partners support.

My main goal as chair was to focus on strategy, and supporting our charity partners in the areas where we and they could have the most impact. I felt we should have a stronger relationship with our partners, and in turn, they should have a strong relationship with each other. It was also important to recognise that our partners brought valuable skills they could share. To this end, we helped MyBnk set up in Scotland, and connect to our network of partners, recognising MyBnk’s expertise in creating and delivering innovative, high-impact and high-energy financial education programmes.

Among our best achievements has been the support we were able to offer our charity partners during the Covid pandemic. Because we are a small charity, with strong lines of communication with our partners, we were able to respond quickly to their concerns about young people having difficulty accessing services and be agile with extra funding requests. We then used what we had learned to create the Foundation Bursary which provides direct support to charities working with our most vulnerable communities and people, and has helped many young people with food, clothing, travel, and IT costs, and therefore helping them into training and employment.

Going forward, the Foundation’s main challenge will be dealing with the balance between demand and supply. The current cost of living crisis has shown us the increasing need in our most vulnerable communities, and we must manage our limited resources and focus our time and energy on those areas where we can be of most use.

I leave the Foundation in the safe hands of its CEO, trustees, and staff, and wish the new chair Gill Tait every success. My last piece of advice would be to always think about the impact we make, the very real difference we can make with every decision we take, and that for a relatively small organisation, we punch above our weight, and will easily meet our 10-year strategic goal to distribute £2million to vulnerable communities and young people by 2026.”

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Global Money Week: “Plan your money, plant your future.”

Are you comfortable talking about how much you earn? Or would you ask someone how much debt they’re in? Even in 2023, talking about money can feel awkward or uncomfortable. But with new Young Minds research showing the cost of living is the major worry for over half (56%) of young people, having open and honest conversations about money is more important than ever.

That’s where Hymans Robertson Foundation partner MyBnk comes in. Founded in 2007, MyBnk are a leading specialist financial education charity in the UK, bringing money management to 5- to 25-year-olds in schools and youth organisations. They have been a funded partner of the Hymans Robertson Foundation since 2019, and a key partner in our ambition to help young people move into secure financial futures through financial capability and employability training, and wellbeing support.

This week (20th – 26th March 2023) is Global Money Week, a global campaign raising awareness of the importance of building financial awareness from an early age. This includes ensuring that young people gain the necessary skills, knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes to help them make informed money choices and achieve financial wellbeing.

Throughout Global Money Week, MyBnk will deliver expert-led money management sessions to over 1600 young people across the UK, supported by the Foundation and our other charity partners.

This year’s theme is “Plan your money, plant your future.” This focuses on sustainability and encourages young people to consider the impact of their financial decisions on their own futures, but also on others, wider society, and the environment.

With many of us struggling to afford basic living costs, encouraging young people to plan ahead, save and consider the environment may be more challenging. But giving young people the tools to maximise their income, check any entitlements they are eligible for and reduce costs whilst also minimising their impact on the environment can help them safeguard their financial futures.

To find out more and book programmes for young people, please visit mybnk.org.

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Bursary Fund for Young People

In October 2020, the Hymans Robertson Foundation announced funding for the launch of its Bursary. Previously, Foundation grant funding was directed towards supporting employability and financial education programmes delivered by our charity partners. However, through working with our partners, we recognised the need to provide direct financial support to young people. Together, the Foundation and its partners co-designed criteria which would support financially vulnerable young people between 16 to 25 years old.

Now in its third year, Bursary funding is managed by 10 UK charity partners that distribute funds to young people facing financial barriers.  The intention of the Bursary is to support young people to move into or maintain a positive destination and provide financial help towards costs including energy/care/food/clothing/IT and data kit and travel.  Maximum grants of up to £300 are available, although the average grant is typically much lower, which indicates that relatively small amounts of funding can make a big difference to young people. Our partner MyBnk acts as a referral partner, further supporting young people to improve their own financial education through online and in-person programmes.

In the first six months of 2022, the Bursary supported nearly 180 young people across the UK. Some of these young people used funding to buy workwear and clothing for interviews. Young people were also supported to achieve necessary qualifications (food hygiene, first aid, construction) which could strengthen their applications with employers.  

“X was a participant (in a Barnardo’s employability programme) and had a keen interest in construction. He was awarded £200 from the Bursary to attend CSCS training and to then sit a test. He worked hard and passed on the first attempt. As a result of this and his Barnardo’s programme, he was offered a position as an Apprentice with an employer”.

Working with young people, our charity partners support and review Bursary funding applications.  For example, the increasing costs of energy and food have been well reported and our charity partners advocated for further Bursary funding. Responding to this need, in October 2022, the Foundation Board approved a further £30k of funding (bringing the Bursary grant to over £90k this financial year). We have directed the additional funding to mitigate ‘hardship’, particularly helping young people with care and energy costs.

Foundation CEO Marcella Boyle said, “The Foundation recognises the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, with more vulnerable young people being disproportionately impacted. The Hardship Bursary provides charity partners access to further Bursary funding to support eligible young people.”

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Lights, Camera, Action: Breaking Barriers Behind the Scenes with LSA

This year, the Hymans Robertson Foundation was delighted to welcome the London Screen Academy as a new charity partner, with 3-year funding approved for a particular project around neurodiversity.  LSA is a free sixth form academy for students aged 16 to 19 years old, founded by some of the biggest names in the British film industry. It aims to plug the skills shortage gap in the industry with a focus on improving diversity – 55 per cent of LSA pupils are from ethnic minority groups and 23 per cent are eligible for pupil premium (pupil equity in Scotland) a measure of poverty.

In July, Marcella Boyle (CEO of the Foundation) visited the Academy at its London home in a converted factory.   

“Introduced by the team at Mayor’s Fund for London, we’ve worked with LSA over the last year, principally on the distribution of the Foundation’s Bursary which the Academy used to support young people with direct grants for travel, training equipment, subsistence and driving lessons. 

We have been impressed by the Academy from the start: its commitment to deliver a high standard of education to its Year 12 and 13 students, its inclusiveness (a high number of students are from black and ethnic minority, LBGT backgrounds) and their enthusiasm to work with the Foundation secure financial futures for young people (with MyBnk now actively working with the Academy to deliver financial education services within the Academy curriculum). 

As our partnership develops, we will work to identify volunteering opportunities. We are delighted that Lucy Steers and her team at Hymans Robertson is already building a relationship with LSA and exploring opportunities to engage their students directly on short/longer-term marketing and communications projects.”

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How the Foundation Bursary is making an impact

In October 2020 we launched the Hymans Robertson Foundation Bursary, aimed at supporting young people aged 16-25 years in education, training, volunteering or employment with small grant funding for essential digital/data kit, travel, clothing, energy and food bills. Through our charity partners, young people were able to apply for grants that would make a difference in their lives. The Bursary was extended during 2021 and the Foundation Board has now confirmed its approval of a further £60,000 funding for this financial year.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, our Bursary fund provided essential financial support to nearly 270 young people across the UK with an average grant award of £140.  The impact of a small amount of funding, when needed, is evident from the stories that young people shared with us. We are pleased to share this short video from one of our Bursary partners, The London Screen Academy.

From April 2022, we have extended the range of charity partners supporting the distribution of Bursary funding across the UK.  We will also encourage young people to take advantage of MyBnk’s financial education support, ensuring that young people are better advised and equipped to manage their finances.

Please get in touch direct if you could benefit from the Bursary or financial education support and we can connect you to the appropriate charity partner.

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Our 2021 Roundup

Welcome to our 2021 summary from the Hymans Robertson Foundation.  Our impact is delivered through our charity partners. On behalf of the Foundation’s Board, I recognise the hard work and commitment our partners have made throughout the pandemic: supporting minoritized young people and communities. Without them the Foundation cannot deliver against our priority areas: securing financial futures for young people and making a positive change to communities through fundraising and volunteering.

During 2021 we continued to listen and be advised by our charity partners, our stakeholders and like-minded funders, ensuring we prioritised our resources to areas of most need and where we could make real differences to people and communities’ lives.  The Board saw the early impact of the introduction of the Foundation Bursary and approved at least a further 2 years (and increased) funding during the year. We also engaged with new charity partners in Birmingham and London during 2021: ensuring that we extended the Bursary’s reach to young people in those cities.

Some of our partners distribute the Bursary to young people directly and the stories from young people have shown the impact that direct funding can have on young people’s lives. Please see our annual report which provides more information on our Bursary and 20/21 impact.

We invite our charity partners to our Board meetings throughout the year. Our Board always benefits from direct engagement with our partners: highlighting areas which are working well and areas of emerging need which could be supported by the Foundation in the future.

In late 2020, our charity partners collectively highlighted the growing and urgent need to support more young people with mental health and wellbeing support. The Board recognised that young people had additional barriers to opportunities resulting from poor mental health and wellbeing and that our own charity partners’ staff needed support and training in this area.  At the end of 2021, we were able to appoint a new mental health charity partner to working directly with young people and provide complementary training to charity staff. I look forward to sharing more of this new partnership shortly.

Finally, a big thanks from the Foundation team to the Firm’s volunteers and fundraisers. Our charity network has brought through specialist, active and virtual volunteering opportunities for Hymans Robertson LLP’s staff and, despite an ever-moving horizon with restrictions and lockdowns, volunteers have continued to support local and Foundation charities throughout the year.  

As we leave our 5th anniversary year, the Foundation has demonstrated its strong social purpose and impact. The new year lies ahead and given the tumult of 2021 we will continue to be a flexible, thoughtful long-term funding partner: showing agility in our Foundation funding commitments, particularly exploring how and where we can support charity partners build back reserves or contribute to core costs. We are also partnering with an increased number of Foundation charities and I look forward to sharing more news on that in the coming months.

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Can technology really offer ‘social good’

As part of Hymans Robertson Better Futures 100: technology campaign, Marcella Boyle, Chief Executive Officer for the Hymans Robertson Foundation discusses ‘tech for good’. The Foundation has built such strong relationships with our charity partners; it’s great to see how our support goes some way to helping build better futures for generations to come.

The Hymans Robertson Foundation (HRF) recognises that harnessing the expertise of technology and digital talent offers “social good”.  We offer specialist volunteering opportunities to the firm’s own staff and leverage our strong relationship with the Scottish Tech Army (where our CEO is also an Ambassador).  The Foundation continues to explore new opportunities to bring skilled volunteer staff to help our charity partners scope and then resource technical / data / projects which can make a real difference to the people they work with and the communities they serve.

Last year, we took our “Tech for Good” support directly to young people. As the pandemic deepened, our charity network reported on the increasing isolation facing young people: impacting on their mental health and wellbeing and creating barriers for young people to keep connected with school / training / work and socially.  Our partners were delivering digitally but not all young people could engage. Was there a role for the Foundation to bridge the data and technology gap?

Working with our Foundation partners, we designed the Bursary: a direct grant for young people who needed financial support to “keep connected”. Over the last 12 months we have supported over 100 UK young people in total and nearly 50 young people to buy kit and data: removing barriers for the young person to keep in school, progress to further / higher education or take up employment opportunities. “This money will be a big help towards my laptop for my new college studies as the laptop will help towards my studies and future work.”

Barnardo’s is one of the Foundation partners that disperses the Bursary across the UK. Tommy McDade, Acting Head of Employment, Training and Skills UK/Barnardo’s told us:-

“HRF Bursary has been used for a wide range of things but I am particularly pleased to see how much it has supported young people when they have secured a job or apprenticeship… (it) really does help the young person to start the job and settle in without worrying about these things”.

At our September charity partners event, the Board of Trustees heard, first hand, the positive and direct impact the Bursary has had on young people. With a small amount of direct funding, young people have been able to re-engage and stay connected.

If you’d like to hear more about our Bursary, how to volunteer for digital / technology project / support for young people, get in touch. We are keen to share and help you advocate / influence your own employer organisations to do even more. 

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Action on Financial Education

Our CEO, Marcella Boyle, has written a blog for our funder (Hymans Robertson) on the importance of action on financial education for children and young people. Marcella shares recent UK money statistics from The Money Charity, research on inconsistencies in financial education for the younger generation by Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) , and the work the Foundation’s partner, MyBnk is doing to try to plug this gap through its Money Works programme, which it also delivers to the Foundation’s other charity partners:

“With our extended charity partner network, we recognised the need (particularly in young people’s employability programmes) to offer specialist education in managing finances. Building financial capability is a key priority for the Foundation.”

You can read Marcella’s full article, plus find links to further research, on the Hymans Robertson website: “Building better financial security through education

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Our 2020 Roundup

The Foundation started the year with a clear plan to further develop relationships with our charity partners and offer opportunities for Hyman Robertson LLP’s volunteers and fundraisers, to continue to deliver support to young people and our communities. The full extent of the global pandemic took hold, our plans adapted and funds were redirected. Despite everything 2020 threw at us, there have been some memorable and positive achievements we want to recap on.

The Hardship Fund

The Fund was launched in April, with extra funding released to help charities across the UK to meet the immediate and urgent needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. By the time funding closed, just over £45,000 had been donated to more than 30 charities, helping to provide urgent food and care packages, vital PPE, counselling and support, educational and digital tools.

Moving online

With face to face support either limited or prohibited, we worked with our Foundation partners to move our financial education support – delivered by our partner MyBnk – to an online delivery model, rolled out directly to young people who could engage remotely via our other partners. This change meant we’ve been able to help over 500 young people since the start of the pandemic.

The Foundation Bursary Fund for Young People

In October we launched the Bursary, aimed at retaining 16-25 year olds in education, training or employment. With young people disproportionately impacted by the UK recession and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, our charity partners advised us of the urgent need for greater intervention in supporting young people in a positive destination.  The Fund has been rolled out nationwide via our existing charity partners and will operate for at least 18 months until April 2022.  In the first 3 months, the Bursary has supported over 50 young people in Glasgow, the Scottish Borders and North England. Here’s the impact of the Bursary for some young beneficiaries:

“the funding gave me the chance to settle in at work without worry about how I was going to get there for the first couple of months”

“the Bursary has allowed me to progress to the Employability Fund Stage 2 course”

“I have just progressed to further training and I’ll be able to do my course work independently at home with my laptop”.

More work is planned to expand the bursary to Birmingham/Midlands and London area in 2021.

Looking ahead

2020 has shown us that we work best when we listen and respond to the needs of community based charities and young people. We want to thank all our partners who continue to work in hard hit communities and with young people who now, more than ever need practical and expert advice to secure a positive future.

Thank you for reading this Roundup.

Marcella Boyle

CEO, February 2021

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