Amy Braier - 16 December 2016
As we crack open another festive chocolate selection, it’s time to round up another packed year for the Pears Foundation team. For a small team, we’ve certainly covered a huge amount of ground both literally – with trips from Accra to Miami - and thematically!
I appreciate that this is a little long for a blog post but our team does so much during the year and these are just the highlights!
Trevor visited Rwanda as part of a delegation organised by our partners at the USC Shoah Foundation and the Aegis Trust. He visited Pears partners including the Kigali Memorial Centre, and Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and established a new partnership with the Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association to help build a new rehabilitation centre for girls who have been living on the streets.
The highlight of February was the launch of our new website and brand. Our work is all about creating spaces and we’re delighted to have created our own space where we can celebrate our partnerships and share some of the thinking behind them. One of our goals was to better articulate the Foundation and we’ve found that the language of creating spaces; understanding, engagement and wellbeing and ‘commit, learn, refine’ has made it much easier to communicate our work and values. Do watch our short film, which encapsulates Trevor’s vision and the way we work.
Trevor and I travelled to Bosnia with Remembering Srebrenica to learn about the genocide and its commemoration. Trevor and Shoshana visited Ghana to see the work of our international development partners AfriKids and Tzedek. A highlight of their trip was breakfast with the Ghanaian Pears Scholarship alumni, many of whom now hold senior posts in health and agriculture. It’s so important that we and our partners communicate our work visually as well as in words, so Dina spent 3 jam-packed days with Dave Brown, our branding expert, taking photos of our Israeli partners, many of which you can see on this website. Dina also attended OLAM’s Focal Point meeting in the USA, which brought together international development practitioners from across the Jewish world. March also saw the start of construction for TouchBase Pears, deafblind charity Sense’s new centre in Birmingham.
We announced a new partnership with the Anna Freud Centre to fund the charity’s Family School in London when it opens in 2018 as part of the charity’s new Centre of Excellence. Further afield, Bridget travelled to Byker to celebrate the launch of Starter Soup, one of our National Youth Social Action Fund grants increasing opportunities for youth social action in Newcastle through the SOUP crowdfunding model.
This month saw a special celebration of one of our longest standing partnerships, as Bridget and I joined hundreds of Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holders at Buckingham Palace to mark their Diamond Anniversary year. It also marked the start of a brand new relationship as we made a first grant to Leeds-based Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association to help establish a Holocaust Learning Centre at the University of Huddersfield.
Trevor and Bridget visited Bradford to see our partner The Linking Network in action in local schools. Our Israeli partner SID held a special session at the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) to review the situation in Nepal a year after the earthquake, involving NGOs and Government agencies who continue to provide vital support to the rebuilding efforts. June also marked the month of Ramadan and we were proud to co-sponsor an interfaith iftar at Lambeth Palace.
As Britain came to terms with the implications of Brexit, Bridget travelled to the USA as part of a US Embassy funded exchange exploring the theme of youth volunteerism. July also saw the first India-Israel Affordable Healthcare Hackathon, which kick-started the build up to the 2017 Pears Challenge. More than 700 engineers, healthcare professionals and entrepreneurs across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Tel Aviv came together to develop solutions to challenges affecting India's low and lower income class. 30 teams were selected to go forward to the next stage, which includes a mentoring programme.
August saw the annual Pears Foundation away day where we learned about Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and held the inaugural Pears Foundation Bake Off! The summer also saw our partner The Olive Tree Initiative’s annual student delegations to the Middle East. The programme promotes conflict resolution skills and a more nuanced understanding of the situation through experiential education.
September was a packed month which saw the official opening of Ambitious College at the Pears Campus in Tottenham, the first college in London to cater exclusively for young adults with autism, and the launch of Foundations Giving Trends 2016. We also hosted the NHS charities roundtable in partnership with Step up to Serve and the Cabinet Office, marking the start of a programme of investment to increase youth volunteering in the health and social care sectors. September is also graduation season for our Pears Scholars at Hebrew University – moving and inspiring graduation events were held in Jerusalem with the International Masters in Public Health students and in Rehovot with those gaining their Masters degrees in Nutrition and in Animal Science.
Trevor, Amy and Bridget visited the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent to meet with the first cohort of students to enrol in the new Philanthropy Studies MA. Our partners were also busy, with First Give holding its annual awards ceremony, to recognise students, charities and teachers who have made outstanding contributions to the programme and the Centre for Holocaust Education hosting its annual Beacon schools residential programme for outstanding schools and teachers who are taking a lead on Holocaust education.
November saw the announcement of the #iwill Fund, which aims to expand youth social action in the UK. Trevor and Kari visited the RNIB Pears Centre in Coventry to see the new hydrotherapy pool that the Foundation has funded and Trevor attended the first ever 3FF ParliaMentors interfaith summit. November also saw us build a new partnership with the National Autistic Society to improve early diagnosis of autism in girls. Trevor spoke on a panel at the Association of Charitable Foundations annual conference on the theme of trust in family foundations.
We brought together all the National Youth Social Action Fund grantees for an evaluation workshop with our funding partner the Cabinet Office and facilitated by IVAR. The end of the month will see the inaugural Ben Azzai Programme trip to India. The programme is an initiative of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, taking a group of Orthodox Jewish students on an immersive trip to Mumbai to learn about the challenges of poverty, education and social mobility. For this year’s Christmas Gifts we have focused on charities that help build shared spaces for people with disabilities to join in what most of us would consider everyday leisure experiences. Recipients include befriending scheme Gig Buddies and the KAOS signing choir for deaf and hearing children.
After all this our team will be off for a few days for a lie down! We’ll be back in January for another busy year that will see the continuation of long-term partnerships and some exciting new ones in the pipeline.