Barclaycard today announced £150,000 in funding for educational and training grants, as part of the award winning Horizons programme, to help lone parents back to work. Research shows that even though 57% of single parents are already in work many more would like to be. £7 million have been donated by Barclaycard to entire programme since 2005 with 450,000 parents and children helped.

The educational and training grants will be made available through Family Action, which administers the education element of the Horizons programme – with Citizens Advice giving the money support, Gingerbread providing the employment support and One Parent Families Scotland providing employment and money support in Scotland. To date Barclaycard has invested over £7 million in the entire Horizons programme helping over 450,000 lone parents and their children through the employment, money and education support.

The grants, which are open for applications from July, will cover a range of funding needs for lone parents. This means grants are not only available for course fees but also for expenses such as childcare, books and transport. Studies of past recipients for the scheme, which has run since 2005, have shown that 94% of parents would have been unable to begin or complete a course without such funding, and 97% believed the grant had improved their employment prospects.

Helen Dent CBE, Chief Executive of Family Action said: “In such a difficult financial and employment climate, where welfare reforms are increasing the pressure to move into work, lone parents need financial support and creative solutions to overcome such barriers to learning and training as course costs, travel, childcare costs and costs for equipment. That’s why the Barclaycard Horizons Your Education programme is so innovative.”

Dent concludes: “With financial support from us they can gain a qualification meaning they have greater chance of getting a job with prospects. At a time when funding is being cut elsewhere, we’re delighted to be working with Barclaycard to help ensure lone parents and their children have a brighter and more secure future.”

For further information visit www.yourhorizons.com


Samantha Dillon, 43, Black cab driver

Samantha Dillon is a 43-year-old single mum of four children aged between 11 and 17. Samantha found it difficult to find a job flexible enough to let her to look after her children, but a £1495 grant from Horizons: Your Education has allowed her to start studying the Knowledge in order to be a black cab driver, a job which will give her the freedom to work around the needs of her children.

Horizons: Your Education is a unique partnership between the charity Family Action and Barclaycard which provides grants to enable lone parents to learn new skills and enhance their personal development.

You still don’t see many female black cabbies in London – but it makes a lot of sense for working mums, as Samantha points out: “The freedom, I think that’s what appealed to me the most; if the children needed me, I could just stop work and go and be with them. That was the biggest difficulty for me to get back into work or any kind of training – because I’m on my own with the children, and their needs come first.”

Sam expects to be qualified in around 16-18 months. She has recently passed her map test after having learned 320 routes by heart, and spends up to 16 hours a week learning new ones. “I love it! I’ve lived in London my whole life, and I’m having a total love affair with London at the minute. The thought of driving my cab every day – I can’t think of anything nicer! Every day will be different, which really appeals to me.”

Since 2005 Your Education has provided grants to almost 500 lone parents, mostly to mums in their twenties and thirties, who are studying on vocational courses all over the UK. Applicants could be studying anything from accountancy to dog grooming, wedding planning, beauty therapy or law – they simply need to demonstrate that the course will help them find employment. 782 children stand to benefit from their parents receiving education funding.

Having applied to the Knowledge Point School in north London, and unable to receive funding from her local council, Sam was thrilled to receive £1495 from Horizons: Your Education to pay for her course fees. “It’s been a godsend. I wouldn’t have been able to go to the Knowledge Point School without it. I was finding it a real struggle; now I don’t have to worry if there’s a book or materials that I need, which means I can concentrate on the studies.”

Sam is keen to emphasise the benefits her new course has made to her family. “We’re all going to benefit. It’s a long-term thing and such an achievement! After many years of looking after the children I’m now having a new lease of life, I’m now Sam. I’m the kids’ mum always, but I’m Sam now as well! My children can see me independent now, and they can see that if I can go back and study, they can do anything; and they’ll never be able to come to me and say ‘I can’t do that, it’s too hard’! It’s a great lesson for them.”

Family Action chief executive Helen Dent CBE said “Working with Barclaycard Horizons to deliver the Your Education programme enables us to help thousands of lone parents and their children have a brighter and more secure future. We are very happy indeed to be supporting these inspirational parents to achieve their goals.”

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