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11 March, 2014

By Niel Oliver, a director of Edventure and a partner of the Caux international forum on ‘Living in a Multicultural World 2014.’

David burst into the room flushed from his bike ride from town: ‘I’ve come to borrow the camera to take photos of the skate park. They want to talk more about my idea’. His enthusiasm was palpable and infectious.

Richard Wallis, a local carpenter, demonstrates his skills and gives a really inspiring talk
Richard Wallis, a local carpenter, demonstrates his skills and gives a really inspiring talk
David is one of seven young adults, aged between 18 and 30, who are part of Edventure, a social enterprise, supporting young adults to take initiative and create sustainable futures for themselves and their communities.

The enterprise is based in Frome in Somerset. It has a population of about 27,000.

Before being accepted into the project, David, 18,, was unemployed. ‘I had an idea of what I wanted to do but didn’t have the skills, support or knowledge of how to get there, and then I lost motivation. Edventure has been brilliant, really positive,’ he said.

David is now in the process of developing a new skate park for young people in Frome. He knows what young skaters want; has found the land to build it; and is developing ideas for other activities that would attract a range of youngsters. ‘There aren’t enough places in Frome for young people to hang out in and find new things to do,’ David said.

Edventure was started two years ago by two enterprising young adults, Johannes Moeller and Temujen Gunawardena, aged 27 and 23. The project focuses on young unemployed adults. It conducts a nine-month training programme, where ‘apprentices’, as they are called, are motivated and empowered to build on their own capacities and resources in order to create fulfilling livelihoods within the community. They receive training and support to develop an idea and bring it to fruition. The first term consists of an intensive training programme that encourages self-reflection, leadership and business skills.

Edventure works in partnership with the Frome Town Council, the Youth Council and the local secondary school. Through a series of community challenges which are taken on by the apprentices, Edventure has created a sustainable source of income as well as offering opportunities to learn. For example, the Council paid the project to run a community consultation on the use of a piece of land in Frome.

Mary, one of the Edventure apprentices, explained: ‘We gathered stories of how the community had used this piece of land over the years. Many of the older residents enjoyed the experience of remembering back and newer residents started to see the piece of land as one with history, not just a waste land.

‘None of us had ever done a consultation before, but we were supported by Edventure. All of us learned from the experience. I think we also provided a really creative way to consult.’

End of year celebrations
End of year celebrations
Edventure also obtained a wood-fired pizza oven, which has offered another opportunity for the apprentices to develop a business and set up a sustainable source of income for Edventure itself. 

Ed, another apprentince, commented: ‘I had never run a business before. We had to really think about all the aspects of making this a viable project – marketing, accounts and who was going to do what and when. It was hard work, but worth it, and has taught us all a lot. The pizzas are fantastic as well so its good to sell something that we like, and is reasonable in price.’

Another apprentice is aiming to develop an upcycling project. ‘I found this support brilliant. I needed help in what to do next, and the others gave me ideas which helped me move on. It’s so much better to have a group rather than trying it out on your own,’ he said.

Edventure has received strong backing from the community in Frome. A recent partnership with the Job Centre has meant that young adults, who are part of the ‘Enterprise club’, have become involved in some of the support that Edventure offers. The apprentices are now in the last few months of the programme and working on ideas of their own.

Edventure is looking forward to September when there will be a new intake. The core team is also looking to use their expertise to gain more income to support the next intake. Each apprentice is financially supported through their first term.

Edventure has been commissioned to train long-term unemployed youth in Frome, using the expertise within the Core Team. Several sources of funding are available to take them through the next year.

According to Johannes : ‘Our long term aim is to be self supporting financially through community challenges and businesses.’

This exciting and inspiring project looks towards its third year. Frome as a community is benefiting from the enthusiasm and skills that these young adults bring with them and there is a sense of excitement within the town about the possibilities that lie ahead.

‘Edventure has provided me with a safe breathing space to decide what I wanted to do and then the skills to do it. I would recommend it to any young adult who needs support to realise an idea,’ said Mary.

Photos by Edventure Frome

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