The Aspiring Leaders Programme (ALP) is a pioneering leadership development programme run by Brathay Trust and the University of Cumbria (UoC).

It takes an innovative approach to learning by combining formal academic teaching with experiential learning and personal development.

It aims to: reinvigorate the voluntary and community sector; keep talented young people in Cumbria and North Lancashire who can respond to the needs of their community and; give youngsters positive role models, raising wider community aspirations, affluence and skills.

ALP is for 18-30 year olds, interested in volunteering or working in the voluntary and community sector in Cumbria and North Lancashire. It’s aimed at those who may not have particularly academic backgrounds, or for whom university may not have been an option in the past. Nominated by local sector leaders, candidates undergo an assessment process before being offered a place.

Over the three year programme the participants: take part in leadership and personal development residentials at Brathay Hall; attend degree lectures and seminars at the University of Cumbria; are assigned leadership mentors and placements; gain work experience and run leadership projects. The course results in a Degree in Social Enterprise Leadership,

The first ALP, with 12 pioneer graduates, ran from September 2011 to July 2014. The second, with 14 students, ends in July 2017. The third ALP will run from September 2017 to July 2020.

What has its impact been?

Evaluation of the first programme shows there has been a positive impact on individuals, the community and the wider sector - including organisations who have hosted participants. Students have acted as role models for other young people in their community, helping to tackle a low aspiration culture, and they are empowered to fill the ‘gaps’ in their community.

... there are quite a lot of boarded up houses, people not living there anymore... the programme itself, it doesn’t change that directly. It doesn’t put money into the community and say look, right, we’ll buy all these shops and give them out for free. What it does do is give potential leaders the chance to see these issues, and gives them the confidence and the ability to address them.”

ALP participant

Organisations who have hosted participants say it has improved their strategic thinking and that business knowledge is informing everyday decision-making and grant applications.

She seems to be actively seeking pots of money everywhere. And that’s making a big difference to us. Because you know, it can mean the difference between whether we’re running or not.

Host organisation

There is no doubt that ALP is an empowering experience for participants, who realise and then act upon their ability to direct their own lives.

We (…) see a wave of determined, able, confident young people becoming leaders in their communities but also leading the Third Sector in Cumbria.

Mentor

Ultimately these inspirational graduates have come together because of a shared drive to improve life chances for others in their communities, forging strong links with each other. This, combined with their new skills, knowledge and makes the continuing progress of these individuals of great interest to all have invested in the Aspiring Leaders Programme. Graduates must continue to be supported to fulfil their potential and, we hope, to play an influential part in the sustainability of the voluntary and community sector in Cumbria and North Lancashire.

What does the programme cost and how is it funded?

The Francis C. Scott Charitable Trust fund the majority of the programme. Their support will reduce from 90% to 60% over the next 10 years. We are responsible for finding any shortfall in funding.

 Contact us

More than ever, committed, knowledgeable and enterprising charity leaders are required to initiate, develop and sustain the services their communities need the most. Help us unlock this young leadership talent. If you would like to find out how you can help please contact Jenni MacDuff, Head of Community Provision at Brathay Trust on 07545926670.

Follow the Aspiring Leaders Programme on Twitter: @BrathayALP