I'm Ruth, RECLAIM Director. I suppose that the point of this post is to say what RECLAIM is about in a moderately entertaining way that will make you want to read on, join us, fund us or in some way help us out. I will try to avoid using this blog as therapy; a cathartic way of alleviating the stresses of being the relatively new CEO of a charity in a time of unprecedented cuts in the sector, working with kids who need us more than ever. RECLAIM is a project that pairs adults with young people and encourages both to challenge themselves to find greater levels of confidence and to aim that bit higher.
In short, I adore the work we do and the young people we work with. All the young people on the project are nominated onto it because they have the need for extra support in their early teens to help them achieve their full potential.
RECLAIM's kids are not feral. They are not disaffected. They are just young people from some of Manchester's less wealthy neighbourhoods who need a bit of support in negotiating a pressured path to adulthood.
We are a small organisation that works hard to support a large number of young people across the city. We follow our instincts and generally get it right and have the freedom and flexibility to respond to young people's needs quickly. When we get it wrong our young people let us know! Our aim is for the talented young people in Moston, Moss Side and Gorton to fear no-one and to feel that they deserve to have successful and fulfilling lives. Instead of campaigning for endless sporting facilities in communities, we need to make sure we are also encouraging our teenagers to think of careers in law, teaching, journalism, politics, policing, medicine e.g. professions that can have a real social impact.
We have been working on this project for 5 years, although we only started as an independent charity a year ago after the sad demise of Urbis (our former home). So far the journey has been bloody exhausting but utterly exhilarating. The joy of going into work and it being something that is created, delivered and owned by me, Emma, Abi, Melissa, Phil, Tosin, Joan, Kemi, Helen, Tasha and Jordan is special indeed.
The ethos that underpins RECLAIM is: "Judge the tree by the fruit it bears, not where its roots are laid". This adage was selected by Jordan 5 years ago when he was a 12 year old participant on the inaugural RECLAIM project. He is now sat opposite me in our office as our first RECLAIM appointee! Our aim is to provide employment opportunities for as many young people as possible over the next few years.
RECLAIM works because it relies more heavily on people, than money. We ask for people to volunteer their time, their creativity, their commitment; this is more important initially than them occasionally opening their wallets. Our young people need to know adults believe in them and are willing to give up time to support their development.
Hopefully lots of people will write on this blog. it doesn't belong to me, anymore than it belongs to Jordan. We want it to be a space where anyone can find their voice and hopefully there will be someone out there to respond.