27 Nov 2017

Launch of Harrison Centre for Social Mobility

Seven local charities have received a share of £30,000 at the launch of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility (HCSM) in Northumberland, set up to tackle some of the North East’s most entrenched social issues.

HCSM will provide advice and financial support to charities that are helping people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, to learn new skills. HCSM will also look for new and unproven ways to tackle long-standing social mobility issues in the North East.

Social mobility is the basic principle that each generation should do better than the previous one and that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

While part of the solution is education and job creation, HCSM has been created to focus on life skills including, aspiration and leadership.

Speaking at the launch of HCSM at Walwick Hall in Northumberland, David Harrison said: “I grew up in a typical County Durham pit village. It was assumed that my future would follow the same path as my parents and the education system didn’t really open my eyes to all the opportunities. I had to travel long distances to find work, was often poorly paid.

“Luckily I found an entrepreneurial streak and realised that I could set up and run a business of my own, look after my family and employ others. So I feel like I have lived social mobility and I would like others from similar backgrounds to me to have the same opportunity but perhaps to discover it a little easier.

“I learned that ambition and aspiration have to come from the individual ultimately but it sometimes needs someone who is trusted to point it out.

“Often new ideas are seen as being too risky for bureaucratic public funding, so HCSM will step in where there is a real chance of success. We are trying to show what is possible and give young people the chance to reach their true potential.”

One of the grant recipients was the Oswin Project in Northumberland that helps improve ex-offenders’ chances of finding long-term employment on leaving prison.

Fiona Sample, Founding Director, said: “The Oswin Project is thrilled and most grateful to be the recipient of the generous grant from David Harrison and the Harrison Centre. It will be used for the mentoring of ex- offenders as they make the transition from prison into work placements. Through being employed the risk of re- offending is minimised, families are kept together and communities become safer places. The ripple effect this grant will create is significant, men will be given hope and a future.”

The Newcastle United Foundation received a £10,000 grant from HCSM. Head of the Foundation, Kate Bradley, said: “Our Foundation has just revealed our vision to build a new home for community sport, education and wellbeing on the site of the Murray House community centre just outside of the city centre. For almost ten years, we have coached, mentored, educated and provided opportunities. This – our new home – will connect a community, becoming a vibrant place for thousands of young people and their families, just a goal-kick from St. James’ Park.

“We are honoured that the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility has chosen our project to receive a donation. Although we are in an early stage of development, we are delighted that David believes in our vision. This donation will be key to our success.”

Grant Recipients

To mark the launch, David Harrison donated £30,000 to seven local charities that are already making a difference to people’s lives in the region. The seven grant recipients are: