Christmas really has come early for Youth Zone Darwen thanks to a £100K funding boost from the John Lewis Foundation Trust.
It’s the single largest individual business donation ever for Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone and will be used to help create 75 new jobs for young people across the town.
This will be done through extending Youth Zone’s dedicated Employment Team, working with businesses, including Youth Zone Darwen Patrons, to identify opportunities for youngsters – ensuring they have the right skills.
Youth Zone was encouraged to apply for the funding by Herbert Parkinson – John Lewis’s textile factory in the town.
Stuart McDonald, Partner and Head of Herbert Parkinson, said:
Herbert Parkinson is incredibly proud to be a social enterprise organisation which is passionate about giving back to the communities we serve.
We were approached by Youth Zone Darwen to become patrons and, after hearing about the valuable work they are doing there, we encouraged them to apply to the John Lewis Foundation for funding.
We know that this donation will be put to really good use, supporting young people in the town into jobs.
Herbert Parkinson has been part of the John Lewis Partnership since 1953, producing soft furnishings, duvets and pillows, made to measure curtains, cushions, roman and roller blinds and customised duvets from their textile mill in Monton Road.
Each year, the dedicated Partners (employees) work hard to support charities in the town, last year they helped to financially support Darwen Food Share.
They also work closely with schools in the town to encourage young people into careers in the textile industry.
Wayne Wild, Trustee at Youth Zone Darwen and Chair of the Darwen Town Deal, said:
We are absolutely blown away by the generosity of John Lewis in awarding Youth Zone Darwen £100,000.
This is going to make a huge difference to the lives of young people in Darwen through the Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone Employability Scheme.
Being able to apply for funding like this has only been made possible through the support of our patrons including Herbert Parkinson, who, in under a year, helped us smash the original fundraising target of £250,000. Their support really has been invaluable and will continue to be so.
I would like to say a very heartfelt thank you once again to them, all at Herbert Parkinson and John Lewis – this is the very best Christmas gift for Youth Zone Darwen.
The Youth Zone provision launched in Darwen during the pandemic but was only ever supposed to be temporary.
However, due to the demand for services, the fundraising drive was launched to make it permanent with extended opening hours to ensure no youngster was ever turned away.
Hannah Allen, CEO of Youth Zone Blackburn and Darwen, said:
We couldn’t quite believe it when we received the email to say that we were being awarded £100,000 from John Lewis & Partners – it is the largest, single business donation we have ever received.
The funding will allow us to extend the fantastic services already being supported by our 11 patrons and Blackburn with Darwen Council. These services are changing lives in the town.
The focus of this new funding will be on creating new jobs for our youngsters through our Employability Team – helping give them the very best start to their working lives and inspiring them to fulfil their potential.
What a fantastic year it has been for Youth Zone Darwen – I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped along the way.