FirstGroup and Action for Children's charity partnership exceeds GBP3.5mln



FirstGroup’s charity partnership with Action for Children has reached £3.5million since it launched in April 2018, helping young people on their journey to better mental health.


The charity partnership, initially set up for three years, was extended by a fourth year in 2021 and is coming to an end this March. Throughout the partnership, FirstGroup has provided support to Action for Children through employee and customer fundraising, corporate donations and gift-in-kind advertising space, as well as volunteering and pro bono support.


FirstGroup’s support has focused on the mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people, including over 1,000 training opportunities for Action for Children mental health staff on the frontline across the UK.


Thanks to this training, Action for Children employees have been able to deliver initiatives such as The Blues programme, an evidence-based group intervention for 13–19-year-olds with early indicators of low mood and anxious thoughts.


FirstGroup’s funding also supported the training of staff to deliver the Bouncing Back programme, a one-day training course that started in response to the pandemic. Aimed at 8-19 year olds, the scheme looks to equip young people with practical tools, an understanding of good mental health resilience, and the knowledge of when and where to seek additional support.


One of the children who took part in the Bouncing Back training, said: “The Action for Children Bouncing Back training will really help me cope with stressful situations. I’ve learnt that wellbeing is a way of being a better you and that if you fall over you get back up again. My confidence has had a real boost.”


FirstGroup's support has further led to more than 2,000 activities being provided through Action for Children’s Enrichment Fund, giving children and young people, who might otherwise miss out, access to enriching activities and experiences that improve mental health and wellbeing. Examples include trips to the zoo, cinema and pantomime for foster families and their children.


Since 2018, Action for Children has been the main beneficiary of FirstGroup’s charity activities across its First Bus and First Rail businesses. In 2020, the partnership won the Business Charity Award for best charity partnership in the transport and automotive category. With this Group-level partnership coming to an end this March, FirstGroup is now taking the opportunity to review its charity partnership approach and explore new ways to complement, support and enhance community investment programmes across its divisions.



David Martin, FirstGroup Executive Chairman, said: “It has been a privilege to be able to support Action for Children in their mission to protect and support children and young people, and to see the lasting legacy that our partnership will leave. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues and customers, who really got behind the partnership, we have been able to fund impactful initiatives, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people across the country, as well as providing vital training to frontline staff.”


Melanie Armstrong, Action for Children CEO, said: “Thanks to FirstGroup’s partnership and a shared vision to support vulnerable children and young people across the UK on their journey to better mental health, Action for Children has been able to deliver essential life-changing services during a time when they are most needed. Despite all the challenges of coronavirus, the fundraising efforts have been truly impressive. As the partnership comes to an end, we would like to say how grateful we are for the passion and ongoing commitment to Action for Children shown by everyone across FirstGroup, which has enabled us to reach an incredible milestone of £3.5m.”



FirstGroup funded staff training allowing Action for Children to deliver a number of initiatives including the following:



The Blues: A two-day training programme on how to deliver the Blues Programme, an evidence-based group intervention for 13–19-year-olds with early indicators of low mood and anxious thoughts. The course provides young people with simple but effective strategies to support their emotional wellbeing using a blended model of cognitive reforming, coping skills and physical activity. Of those who took part in The Blues initiative last year, 79% said they felt the programme had increased their confidence, 72% demonstrated improved relationships with family and friends, and 98% would recommend the programme to their peers.


The Approach: A one-day training scheme for frontline staff to build their own resilience in dealing with situations and life challenges, learning practical skills that they can share with the children and families they work with.


Bouncing Back: A one-day training programme to enable staff to deliver resilience building mental health intervention for 8–19-year-olds. Bouncing Back is a new initiative developed in response to the pandemic and looks to equip young people with practical tools, an understanding of good mental health resilience, and the knowledge of when and where to seek additional support. Since September 2021, more than 10,000 young people have taken part in Bouncing Back, with 72% reporting an increase both in confidence and their ability to cope with stressful situations.


Papyrus UK Suicide Prevention: A workshop for professionals working with young people to improve suicide awareness and alertness. Participants learn how to identify a young person at risk and are given clear and practical information on how to explore suicide and respond appropriately.


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