Over the years, The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity has assisted the start-up of many businesses, each with their own inspirational story behind them. However, in the case of business borrower Melissa March, her story is one that continues to inspire.
Melissa’s loan was used to establish Learning for the Fourth Age (L4A), which has become established as an award-winning charity. L4A provides learning opportunities to older people receiving care, either in care settings – such as care homes or nursing homes, or with individuals in their own homes.
“We started L4A because both myself and Toni Fazaeli (co-founder) had personal experience of loved ones living in care homes, and we wanted to do something to improve the quality of life for other people in later life,” explained Melissa (pictured, below).
In addition to providing a valuable service to older people, Learning for the Fourth Age also wants to encourage the Care Quality Commission to strengthen standards for social care inspection, so that they include effective mental stimulation as a threshold requirement, and one-to-one learning – complemented by group learning – as the norm.
“It feels daft to say that I fell into running my own organisation – but it’s true,” revealed Melissa.
“I think it’s the ability to bring great people together for a common purpose; to trial new ideas, develop relationships and choose where we go next that is so great about my job. It’s never boring and there’s always something to do in a different, new or better way.”
L4A has been the recipient of critical acclaim since being established. The charity recently won the Big Lottery’s ‘The People’s Projects’, and received a sizable injection of cash to fund a Storytelling Project. Over recent months L4A has been piloting storytelling in a number of care homes in Leicestershire, successfully engaging with people, including those who may not ordinarily participate in activities and those with memory loss and dementia.
“We hope that we are changing perceptions of what day-to-day life for older people is like in care homes, by challenging people to think about how an activity programme can be personalised, creative and focused on learning and development,” said Melissa.
“The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity were our first external backer,” she added. “It was clear that they wanted to see us success at what we did, but also were confident enough in our business idea to put some money behind us. This was a huge confidence boost and has provided us with a fantastic cushion whenever we have been doing financial planning.
“If you have a good idea and the ability to succeed, you should definitely get in touch with The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity. I have always found them to be supportive and understanding. I would definitely recommend others to the Charity where applicable.”
As for Learning for the Fourth Age, 2017 will see the organisation celebrate its 10th anniversary – a milestone that is exciting for everybody involved.
“Now that we are a charity ourselves, we will continue to focus on improving the lives of older people in care across Leicester and Leicestershire,” Melissa said.
“We are always on the look-out for more funding to deliver more of what we do and are keen to work with other charities and organisations to do this. Work will soon start for planning our 10th birthday celebrations!”
If you would like to follow in Melissa’s footsteps and turn a passion into a career, get in touch with The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity by CLICKING HERE.
To find out more about Learning for the Fourth Age, please visit www.l4a.org.uk