Thrive Homes tenants to realise ambitions after winning more than £8,000 worth of grants
Published by kerri smith for Thrive Homes in Housing and also in Communities
An aspiring West End actor and a single mother who wants to become an HGV driver are among the winners of competition to win funding from Thrive Homes to pursue their dreams.
The housing association, which is marking its fifth anniversary with a Year of Ambition, launched its Go For It award earlier this year, offering a one-off grant of up to £5,000 to help one or more of its residents achieve their goal.
The organisation, which owns and manages more than 4,000 rented and leasehold properties in Hertfordshire, urged anyone who could demonstrate how the grant would make a difference to their personal development or their family’s options or how it would help them to make a contribution to the community, to apply.
The panel was so impressed with the calibre of applications that it agreed to award a total of £8,150 to four tenants – all of whom have very different dreams.
Luke Meredith, aged 21, from Rickmansworth, was awarded £2,500 towards his £13,900 fees for a coveted place at the prestigious London School of Musical Theatre, in south London.
The Colchester Institute graduate was one of hundreds of applicants for the course, which cannot be paid for through a student loan. He has set his sights on raising £7,000 for the fees and is hoping that he can raise further funds through sponsorship. Any shortfall will have to be made up through a bank loan.
He said he was overwhelmed when he was told his application had been successful.
“I really feel indebted to Thrive Homes,” said Luke, who lives with his mother Sarah.
“I’ve been involved with musical theatre since I was six years old and it is all I have ever wanted to do. The fees for the course are high but this is my dream and I am determined to succeed in West End theatre.
“The contribution from Thrive Homes really will help me achieve my ambition; I cannot thank them enough.”
Another successful applicant, Alison Taylor, told the panel of judges, which comprised Thrive Homes’ Chief Executive Elspeth Mackenzie, board members Ellen Clarke and Selina White, and community partnerships manager Zulf Awan, that she wanted to realise her ambition of becoming an HGV driver.
The 46-year-old mother, from Rickmansworth, said after a challenging few years she had now decided to change direction and qualify as an HGV driver. She was awarded a grant of £1,650 that will help to pay for training, examinations and licence that will enable the former health care assistant to get the qualifications she needs for her new career.
“The grant from Thrive Homes will help to change my life for the better and I can hardly wait to undergo all the tests so that I can get my licence and get on the road as a driver,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was told my application was successful; it was totally unreal. I can’t thank them enough because it really will make a huge difference.”
Nursing student Hayley Harrison, from Chorleywood, was awarded £2,500, which will help to pay for a Master’s qualification in cognitive behaviour therapy at Bucks New University so she can pursue her dream to be a specialist mental health nurse.
The former recruitment consultant is due to graduate from university in February 2014 and will then take up the MSc place in September.
“I decided to retrain because I am passionate about becoming a mental health nurse and am so pleased I am on my way to achieving that,” said the 41-year-old.
“The grant from Thrive Homes will pay for a significant chunk of my MSc fees, which is absolutely fantastic. I was thrilled to be shortlisted but to actually be a recipient of one of the grants is amazing.”
The fourth winner is Gemma Brown, who was awarded £1,500 by Thrive Homes so that she can set up her own health and beauty business.
The 24-year-old from Watford, who has been training to be a beauty therapist for the past few months, said she wanted to expand her skills so that she could run a business in the area.
“I am absolutely determined to succeed in business and because I love what I do, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” she said.
“It’s a dream come true to be awarded the money from Thrive Homes as it will go towards the essential training I need.”
All applicants had to demonstrate how the grant would make a difference to their personal development or their family’s options or how it would help them to make a contribution to the community.
Thrive Homes’ Chief Executive Elspeth Mackenzie said the quality of all the applications was exceptional, which made it difficult to shortlist the original 15 applications to nine.
All nine shortlisted candidates were interviewed and the winners selected after a long discussion between the panel members.
“It was very difficult indeed to choose between the applicants because their supporting information was very strong indeed and they were all very impressive,” said Elspeth. “But we congratulate all of the winning applicants because they demonstrated that they were very focused in their ambitions and showed exactly what they were doing to help themselves to achieve their goals.
“It’s heartening that Thrive Homes can help its residents in such a positive way and we are looking forward to seeing how each of the grant winners gets on in their future careers. We are thrilled to help them on their way to realising their dreams.”