Making A Difference – By Big Changer, James Burton

2 April 2019

Since September 2016 I’ve been an active supporter of Big Change, raising over £15K through STRIVE and other challenges with the support of my family and friends. This backing hasn’t just been through donations either, last year we did 100,000 burpees together during November and there has been countless other physical challenges along the way. I believe exercise is so important in the development of all of us, so its always felt very fitting to fundraise through movement.

Our network of big changers are making a difference with every donation, fundraising activity and through advocacy support. In this guest blog, James Burton, shares his experience visiting with our project partner, The Difference. 

I come from a very privileged upbringing, while my family didn’t have a lot of money, I have two amazing parents and a close-knit family who have always pushed me to better myself. This and strong role models at school and in sport have served me very well into my adult life. Not everyone is this lucky. It’s one of the reasons why I believe so passionately in Big Change; everyone deserves the same opportunities that I had and that my children will have.

Big Change understands that doing more of the same will lead to the same results – which unfortunately means that many of the most vulnerable of the next generation grow up destined for a life of crime, poverty or at a minimum not living to their full potential. For this reason, Big Change invest in new powerful ideas to accelerate social impact for young people.

One of the project partners they fund and support, The Difference, recently ran a thought-provoking day at WAC Arts College. I was honoured to be invited to see how everyone’s donations to Big Change are being maximised.

Big Change 2015 Project Partner, Generation Change

Every day, 41 of the country’s most vulnerable children are permanently excluded from school. These children are twice as likely to be in care, four times more likely to be living in poverty, and seven times more likely to suffer a mental health problem or have another disability or special need. 99% of excluded children leave school without the qualifications they need to access the workplace. This minority of the school population goes on to make up the majority of the prison population.

“The predictable life trajectory for these vulnerable children is not simply an injustice, it is also economically unsustainable.”

Every year’s cohort of permanently excluded pupils will go on to cost the state £2.1 billion in education, health, benefits and criminal justice costs. Yet more pupils are being excluded, year-on-year.

The Difference exists to re-write this story by working with inspiring alternative provision schools like WAC Arts College to train a new generation of school leaders to develop this expertise in the wider teaching profession.

WAC Arts College is a wonderful example of shifting the mindset of what some may call a problem into something positive. The college is an incredible environment to learn and they give their pupils renewed purpose and passion in their lives, leading to career opportunities in the creative industry and further, higher education.

From our group discussion with Kiran Gill, Founder of The Difference it was clear that funding from Big Change has helped to make their initiative a reality. Governments make tried and tested, safe bets. Big Change exists to find those powerful ideas that have not been proven yet, ones that can really empower young people and drive long-term systemic change.

“Our donations really do make a difference in the lives of young people, helping to scale truly game changing ideas.”

By James Burton