Growing from strength to strength – two years after tragedy

Not everyone makes such an impact at such a young age, but Matt Kendall did. That’s why his work and the charity set up in his name is continuing to go from strength to strength.

The swell of emotion and support from across Birmingham led Matt, aged just 35, to set up a grant-giving charity just weeks before he lost his two and half year battle with  incurable oesophageal cancer.

The youth and community worker had spent his whole adult life in Birmingham and loved the city’s energy and diversity.   But he was constantly frustrated about the city’s social divides, and about young people’s inability to get into jobs and training – not through any fault of their own – but because they just didn’t have basic finances.

He believed that no-one’s life should be put on hold because they don’t have the money that most of us take for granted.  He saw that just a small amount can make a huge difference to the young people not in education, employment or training in our city.

Now two years after his death, the Matt Kendall Foundation is really making a difference to Birmingham’s most disadvantaged 16 to 25 year olds.   The charity provides one-off grants of up to £500 to pay for a range of support that a young person might need – from training and travel to education courses and equipment.

And it’s a good job too.   The number of young people not in education, employment or training in Birmingham remains stubbornly high, despite the city having one of the youngest populations in Europe and despite the tremendous work of voluntary organisations across the area.  So, plenty to be done then.

“Matt made a difference to more people’s lives than anyone ever realised,” says the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sophie Wilson “from all across the world, but nowhere more so than in Birmingham; from Aston and Nechells, to Kings Heath. Bringing communities together and unblocking the barriers to community social action really was his forte.

When we realised that Matt was nearing the end of his life, we spent a long time thinking about how we could channel the incredible support for Matt, as well as the deep sadness at the loss of such an extraordinary human being, into something more positive that built on his own passion and belief in young people.  That’s how The Matt Kendall Foundation was founded. Matt was there for the first two weeks of the charities development; he created the aims and objectives with us, he charged us with the responsibility to make a difference and carry on his work, and we remain guided by him to this day.”

And with the last bi-monthly Board meeting seeing 12 submissions from young people considered by the foundation’s Trustees, word really is starting to get around.

“As with any charity run by volunteers who also have full-time jobs, it took a while to get going. But we’re really getting there now.  We’re so delighted.  It is such an honour to be a part of turning people’s lives around. In just two year’s we’ve raised over £60,000 with our fantastic supporters and we’re putting that money to good use.

These are young people who have a plan and the energy to get into work, and have tried everything they can to get there.  The financial barriers are just too high. That’s where we come in.”

In just two years The Matt Kendall Foundation has raised over £60,000 to support disadvantaged young people in Birmingham.

Grants that change lives – case studies

Natalie’s story

Once jobless, homeless and desperate, Natalie used her grant to get the experience she needed in the US to get her dream job as a football coach.

“Since returning back from America in October 2016, I passed my driving test first time (!) and began working(!!) in a primary school as a Sport Mentor supplemented by some childcare work. I also coach at Leicester City Football Academy every weekend and manage my own under 8’s team.

Without the grant I don’t know where I’d be now.  I had an unbelievable experience in America, but moreover I learnt the professional skills and gained the confidence I needed to make a living out of my passion. My plan is to own my own football academy and help others to follow their dreams, like the Matt Kendall Foundation did for me. I can’t believe how great my future looks now. “

Serena and Milly’s story

Both young people were based at St. Basil’s accommodation and needed specialist equipment and support to get on and complete courses in beauty therapy.

Thanks to the grant from the Matt Kendall Foundation, Milly was able to complete her practical assessment and will be starting her own business as a beauty therapist. She’s doing so well that she’s even moved onto independent accommodation.

Serena has been successful in gaining a place in Birmingham University College of Food and enrolled to start her degree in September 2017.  She has also moved into her own independent accommodation and passed all her practical and theoretical exams with distinction.

St. Basils’ worker Ade Duncan said:

“Thank you so much for your assistance as without your generosity, these two hardworking young people would have been unable to achieve the education and independence they crave and desire.”

Be an ambassador

The Matt Kendall Foundation is now calling out to all youth and community/family professionals working in Birmingham in either a paid or voluntary capacity to find out more about the application criteria and help young people to apply.

“This really is the way that community professionals can see improved outcomes for the work they do,” continues Sophie, “even when there is increasing pressure on everyone’s budgets.

Our Ambassador programme is really informal, and we don’t ask for any additional resource – just an hour of your time to find out more and to feedback to us – to make sure that our criteria continue to reflect the support that young people need.

We’ve noticed that for a variety of reasons, some young people find it difficult to apply for a grant, even if they fit the bill perfectly.  That’s where the Ambassadors come in – by identifying the young people that could really benefit and supporting their application.

So I’m sending a rallying cry to all voluntary and public sector professionals in Birmingham –  let’s make a real difference together!”

The next year will see the Matt Kendall Foundation focusing on developing new links with organisations and encouraging as many young people to apply for a grant as possible.

The foundation would like to officially thank the Kendall family for their continuing support and direction over the last two years, and to their hundreds of supporters – both professional and personal – across the city.


Find out more about being an MKF Ambassador at: www.themattkendallfoundation.org/ambassadors

Are you a voluntary organisation that would benefit from a partnership with the Matt Kendall Foundation? Get in touch at themattkendallfoundation@yahoo.com

Apply for the fund:

Applying to the Matt Kendall Foundation couldn’t be easier and Trustees consider applications every other month. If an application is urgent we will make every effort to consider grants straight away.

Young people can apply in a number of ways for a grant of up to £500 through our website at www.themattkendallfoundation.org/apply :

  • By video or audio clip
  • By short written statement

The Foundation may write to a nominated sponsor/Ambassador to find out more information about the young person’s circumstances, if needed.

Each application is considered on its own merit, but for further guidelines on what we will and won’t fund please refer to the website.

Contacting and staying up to date with the Matt Kendall Foundation:

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