From Marlborough to Gunjur: Changing Young People’s Lives

This exhibition at The White Horse Gallery in Marlborough celebrated an extraordinary first year for the ground-breaking new charity, Thriving Through Venture.

From Marlborough to Gunjur: Changing Young People’s Lives’ looked back on the first year of achievements by TTV, which was set up to help young people with potential mental health issues to prepare for life beyond school. The exhibition includes stunning photographic portraits, heart-warming life stories and a local business study, reflecting the three main projects that TTV’s teenagers undertook in 2018.

TTV is the brainchild of Caro Strover, an educational psychologist from Ramsbury, who believes there is an urgent need to develop young people’s resilience and confidence as they prepare to take their places in the adult world. One in four teenagers in Britain is currently being referred to mental health services, fuelling fears of a snowflake generation ill-equipped for the workplace.

“There’s a real need to help them at this critical time of their lives,” Caro says. “Our approach, which is a bit different, is to take young people out of their comfort zone in a controlled way and build up their resilience and confidence. To help improve their wellbeing and give them real purpose in life, we encourage a sense of belonging and connectedness, both within their local community and abroad.”

In August 2018, a group of ten young people travelled with TTV to Gunjur, in the Gambia, which is twinned with Marlborough in Wiltshire. They were drawn from a mixture of local state and private schools in Wiltshire and Swindon. The photography group, under the guidance of local fine art photographer Hilary Stock, took portraits of professionals in the Gunjur community, including a midwife and a bee keeper, matching them with equivalent portraits that they had taken in Marlborough.

The storytelling group, mentored by Colin Heber-Percy, a local vicar and screenwriter, heard and recorded the life stories of various interesting figures within the Gunjur community, including the Imam and village chief. These will be on display at the exhibition, along with the stories of local people they met in Marlborough.

The business group, guided by TTV’s co-director and Trustee, Dr Nick Maurice OBE, investigated the export opportunities for The Gambia’s mango industry. With the support of Fair Trade and the Marlborough branch of Tesco, they drew up a business study that outlines the potential for exporting mangos to West Africa and to Europe.

“The experience of connecting and collaborating within a very different community proved invaluable,” says Strover. “The teenagers have made friendships with people both here and in Africa that they wouldn’t normally have met. And they have collaborated on real life projects outside the classroom. I’m so proud of what they’ve all achieved. It’s been an incredible first year for TTV and there’s increasing evidence to support the innovative approach that we’re taking.”

The TTV programme, supported by Claire Perry MP, has been independently assessed by Jackie Beere OBE, who concluded that it should be rolled out across the country: In the context of a society where levels of anxiety, unhappiness and self-doubt are reported regularly in schools and employers report concern over a snowflake generation who lack resilience in the workplace, the TTV programme needs to be expanded and made available to more teenagers nationwide. Indeed, this type of experience should be considered as a curriculum entitlement for all students in schools.

For further information, visit ttventure.org or call Caro Strover on 07973 185429.

 

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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale