Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, explores how we can help young Cumbrians make the most of their future.

We’re all on the same sea but in different boats has been one of the best ways of describing the varying experiences of people during the pandemic.

One particularly rocky and directionless boat is occupied by young people trying to steer a course at a time of great uncertainty around lost education, qualifications and job opportunities.
As part of our recent ‘Voices from the Frontline’ event young Cumbrians have told us about their experience of lockdown and the pandemic.

Some spoke of feeling directionless and lacking motivation, others spoke of real fear, anxiety and the struggles of friends with mental health problems.

There are two important online resources for young people with mental health concerns: and, these are phone-based apps where young people can access mutual support and professional counselling. There are also a range of organisations in the county offering support including Promoting Autonomy & Change, Together We CIC, Barnardo’s, SAFA and OutReach Cumbria.

Most adults have life experience that help us build resilience.

It’s hugely important that young people are supported during this time and Cumbria Youth Alliance (CYA), our countywide youth charity, have launched a pilot ‘Positive Role Models’ project to recruit male volunteers to support young men aged 12 to 16 to build their resilience and develop life skills.

There’s a matching process, training and support. If you’d like to know more email Jamie at CYA

Because of the urgency around the needs of young people, our new High Sheriff, David Beeby, has chosen to dedicate his time to support youth initiatives across the county.
David Beeby who is the former MD of Innovia Films in Wigton and Chair of the Cumbria Branch of the CBI, took up the role on March 31 and follows on from Forge Europa’s HR Director Julie Barton.

Our High Sheriff’s may occupy an ancient role but it’s great to see them playing proactive roles championing all that’s best about Cumbria.

One of Julie’s initiatives has been the creation of business innovation awards, won this year by Chinty’s in Keswick (micro business) and Herdy (SME category).

Julie also created an award for the most Community Spirited Business which was won by Story Contracting. Congratulations to all of them.

I’d like to close by taking you back to August 1999 and the launch of the Community Foundation with a founding donation of £1 million from BNFL (now Sellafield Ltd).

At that time, we were a group of dedicated volunteers plus one member of staff. We had a vision and a plan to create a new organisation that would focus the giving of people and businesses to fund charities to help people in need across the county.

With the support of thousands of donors, we’ve now given out over £50 million in grants over the life of the Foundation.

We’ve been at the heart of our communities during Foot and Mouth Disease, flooding and now a pandemic.

We’ve backed young people who’ve gone onto represent our country at sport and helped older people stay safe and warm through the winter through our Winter Warmth Appeal, just two of many examples of how we’ve made a difference.

As we re-build our economy and emerge from the pandemic, I offer the story of the Community Foundation as an example of what can be achieved when we all pull together.