"I believe OYAP Trust has turned my life around. I met OYAP at the age of around 8 after being in care for a few years. I was young, withdrawn and leading down a path of failure. Now, at the age of 19 I am a fully educated young man with very distinct goals. I have managed to complete school with good grades, finish A levels and am currently at college. I believe that without OYAP Trust and the events I participated in gaining me social skills and the option to interact and grow while having fun with others, I would not be where I am today. OYAP has helped me gain friends, those I can call family - but mainly they have helped me
OYAP Trust runs projects that invite all young people in Oxfordshire to take part in irresistible arts activities. Each year, thousands of children and young adults are inspired, learn new skills, meet new people and achieve success through our creative projects.
As well as running projects that are open to all young people, OYAP is passionate about providing specialised arts projects designed to reach out to the county's most vulnerable young people: those at risk of isolation as a result of disadvantages such as poverty, special learning needs, school exclusion, mental health problems, and family breakdown.
Although Oxfordshire is perceived as a wealthy county, more than 13,000 children here are living in poverty. In Oxfordshire, approximately 3,600 young people are not in education employment or training. Hundreds of children and young people are looked after by Oxfordshire County Council, and the Council plans to build 3 new children's homes to enable them to look after more children.
OYAP Trust designs arts projects that specifically tackle these problems. Our Kick Arts programme is a 6-month flexi-school project in which OYAP works with children who are at risk of falling out of mainstream education. Children who are school refusers, at risk of exclusion, persistent absentees or significantly under-achieving in school, are referred to the programme. They take part in educational creative activities, to experience positive learning experiences in an individually tailored and highly supportive environment. In the pilot of this project, Kick Arts helped the 8 young people who took part achieve an Arts Award and support their return to mainstream education.
One Assistant Head Teacher who referred 5 pupils to the programme said:
"What is so special about the arts is that it fires imagination, it offers safety, it gives vulnerable students the opportunity to connect with learning and developing their own learning strategies in the safety of an environment where there is no failing, only experimenting positively. That's what's different about Kick Arts...it gave them literally a lifeline back to school."
OYAP's Fragments project is a collaboration with Oxford Family Mediation which offers support not only to young people facing parental separation and divorce, but also to their peers, enabling young people to express their feelings about this difficult issue, recognising that they are not alone, and understand and support each other. By the time they are 16, 50% of young people will have experienced parental separation, and without the appropriate levels of support, this is the single biggest risk factor to a child under-achieving in school.
"His behaviour improved in other lessons and he felt he had gained personally from the experience but also from the standpoint that he now had a fantastic support network of peers who had experienced similar issues.”
- Faculty Leader of a school that took part in Fragments
OYAP's Hill End project was an annual residential project for Looked After Children. Young people in care worked with social workers, OYAP artists and staff and volunteers over the course of a week to learn new skills which, at the end of the week, they were able to display as part of a multi-arts performance. The young people were given the opportunity to work towards an Arts Award, and for many of the participants this project felt the the first time they had achieved something that they could be truly proud of.
“It is hard to know where to begin when writing about Hill End and OYAP Trust. To this day, just thinking about Hill End makes me very emotional. Hill End was not just a week of art activities to keep a bunch of kids in care occupied during the holidays, and to give their carers a break. It was the one week a year where you were not the ‘odd kid out’. That kind of inclusiveness, family reunion feel cannot be underestimated to children who are used to being ‘a kid in care’ and all the stigma and prejudice that surrounds that label...Hill End was a way to showcase everybody’s individual talents, whatever they were. The arts team were inclusive and non-judgemental; they focused on our strengths rather than the negatives we were generally used to. They encouraged and supported us, enabled and empowered us. They made the whole week fun and exciting, and praised us for our efforts and talents. Hill End built self-esteem in a way that most therapies would fail to. That was essentially what Hill End was – therapy in disguise.”
OYAP Trust exists to help young people improve their own lives and the communities in which they live. Without the generous donations of individuals, Trusts and Foundations and businesses, we would not be able to reach out to the hundreds of vulnerable 11 to 25 year olds that we work with each year. If you are interested in supporting a project and helping us to deliver this work, please visit our Support Us page.
"I have really seen him come out of his shell, a whole different person, he has grown since he’s been here, because he was very shy, found it hard to interact with other kids his age, and coming here, I thought great, he’s fit in and he’s had no problems. For me at home, when I’m thinking ‘I am hoping he’s making friends’ and to hear that, that’s brilliant! It's definitely done wonders with him, definitely."
- One young person talks about their 11 year journey with OYAP Trust
grow into an individual with the confidence to speak out. OYAP Trust has helped me get off a bad start to life and gain a new one with many possibilities ahead for me. But also for the countless others OYAP has helped, the continuation of this trust will ensure others like me can grow and develop as I have.”