Aspiring Leaders Programme

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

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 19-32 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, ended in July 2017. The third ALP started in September 2017 and will come to a close shortly.

You can find answers to FAQs at the bottom of the page.

For any additional questions, please contact Rachel Suddart.

Update – 7th September 2020

Recruitment for ALP4 is now live once again, with the programme beginning in January 2021.

This was put on hold during the emerging pandemic and lockdown, and we decided to postpone the planned September 2020 start. We have made some changes to ensure that it can be delivered in a COVID-secure manner and we believe that this is the right time to be re-starting and supporting young adults and third sector organisations in Cumbria and N. Lancs.

The new deadline for applications is 9am on Friday 6th November.

Application forms are available here and more information about the programme is below.

Successful applicants will be invited to an assessment weekend at Brathay, running from 6pm on 27th- 5pm on 29th November 2020. 

What has its impact been?

Evaluation of the 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. In the first year of ALP3 we have seen:

79 Increased Awareness Of Self And Abilities 92 Refelct More On Themselves And Their Abilities 85 Take Action To Develop Skills And Abilities

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 and knowledge, makes the continuing progress of these individuals of great interest to all who have invested in the Aspiring Leaders Programme. Graduates must continue to be supported to fulfill their potential and, we hope, to play an influential part in the sustainability of the voluntary and community sector in Cumbria and North Lancashire.

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


Watch this wonderful film created by ALP2 participants at the end of their programme in 2017:

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.

To find out more or to see how you could help contact us on - 015394 39760.

Follow the Aspiring Leaders Programme on Twitter: @BrathayALP 

Sponsor logos for ALP