Identity, community and citizenship in the UK

Pears Foundation believes that we should all have the opportunity to play an active part in the communities we live in and make a positive contribution to British society.

We invest in programmes that build positive identity and foster respect and understanding between people of different backgrounds. We also promote active citizenship and volunteering, including work to remove barriers to participation for disadvantaged groups.

Building positive identity

With the aim of replacing ‘tolerance’ with ‘understanding’, we support programmes that encourage confident identities in young people and adults, while deepening their understanding and connection with people from different backgrounds.

Our support for the Schools Linking Network enabled it to grow from a local project in Bradford to a national organisation. SLN works with thousands of young people, schools and local authorities to explore issues of identity, diversity, equality and community.

The Foundation has a long-standing partnership with 3FF with the aim of educating young people about faiths and belief, helping them to become confident, sensitive and effective communicators. We support 3FF to provide education workshops, faith school linking opportunities and Parliamentors, an award-winning interfaith student leadership scheme.

In 2010 we established the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College, University of London. The Institute aims to deepen understanding of antisemitism and other forms of racism and intolerance and to contribute to public policy and debate. It is based on the principle that the study of antisemitism is vital to understanding racism, religious intolerance and xenophobia more broadly.

Pears Foundation also commissions research to enhance understandings of contemporary identity. These include a study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research into the identity of British Jewish students and a project with the UJIA to look at the impact of Jewish secondary education.

Active citizenship and volunteering

Pears Foundation has been a major partner of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award since 2003.

Over the past 50 years, almost 5 million young people have taken part in the DofE. In 2007 we commissioned the University of Northampton to carry out a major study of the award’s impact. Conducted in partnership with the DofE, this research provided solid evidence of the lasting benefits for the young people who participate. Ninety per cent of participants said that it had given them opportunities to help others and 93% said that they had developed teamwork skills.

The research has enabled the DofE to build its profile, refine its strategy and improve the programme. Our partnership with the charity is ongoing, with a current focus on enabling more young people to complete their award.

Removing barriers to participation

The Foundation supports specialist learning facilities and organisations delivering best practice care and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and their families.

Since 2005 we have been a major partner of Ambitious about Autism, the national charity for autism education.  The Pears National Centre for Autism Education opened in 2009 and provides a state-of-the-art building for the charity’s headquarters as well as space for TreeHouse school. We continue to partner with Ambitious about Autism to expand the scope and impact of their activities.

We also support the RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning, a residential facility for children with severe and complex needs, and the Pears Special Resource Provision at JCoSS school.

The Foundation invests in research through the Centre for Research in Autism and Education at the Institute of Education. Established in 2009, the Centre aims to improve outcomes for young people with autism and use its findings to influence policy and practice in the UK and world-wide.

The Foundation also works with organisations that aim to tackle social exclusion and support and empower disadvantaged groups.

Other partners in this programme area include: