The Cooke E-Learning Foundation (trading as E2) is the lead community-based social action organisation in Beaumont Leys, Leicester and currently is the only charitable, non-faith based organisation with the capacity to design, develop and implement area-wide projects and initiatives.
E2/ The Cooke E-Learning Foundation was established in 2005 as a small project based at a local college by the Deputy Principal of 20 years and current Treasurer and Trustee of E2. He wasn’t happy that the college was scrapping its old computers and he started a project to refurbish and distribute these to local families. However, it soon became apparent that having the digital skills to use them was a major barrier and therefore the project evolved to provide this training as well. A couple of years later, Beaumont Leys had a significant arrival of new immigrant and refugee communities and this presented a new challenge since before families could make use of a refurbished computer, and before they could effectively learn digital skills they needed to learn English. Although, our link to the original college has diminished with successive heads and their transformation into an academy, we still have strong links with schools in and around Leicester and Leicestershire. In fact, we have strong relationships with around 25 schools and local universities and colleges. In 2012, the current CEO of E2 completed his degree in Youth and Community Development and hence the organisation began its shift towards working with young people and developing the community capacity of Beaumont Leys. E2 no longer supplies or repairs computer equipment due to the comparatively low cost of purchasing tablets, laptops and computers. However, we still provide digital skills training, entry level ESOL courses and take the lead on digital projects through our wider networks and partnerships such as the Reaching People Consortium .
E2 / The Cooke E-Learning Foundation is located in Beaumont Leys, Leicester which is a disadvantaged community. The English Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015, ranked Leicester as the 21st most deprived areas out of 326 Local Authorities. Within Leicester, Beaumont Leys is the ward with the highest levels of derivation and young people in receipt of free school meals. E2 provides community education and services that help to alleviate some of these factors with the objective of empowering people through education to help themselves and their families. We tackle the social issues in our neighbourhood in a number of ways such as:
· Provision of a weekly food bank for people in crisis. People are referred to our service through external agencies. People can continue to access our food bank after 6 visits on the condition that they are able to prove they are accessing a service or activity that will help to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and avoid further use of our food bank. We currently support around 40 people per week.
· Community education for adults - We deliver ESOL courses for people whose first language is not English. We also provide accredited and non-accredited digital skills training. We are currently running twice weekly drop-in sessions at our centre as well as 1-2-1 digital support across Leicester and Leicestershire through our involvement in Moneywise Plus which is a BBO Big Lottery / EU funded project.
· Vocational education and activities for young people - We deliver accredited vocational education for 13 - 16 years olds that are marginalised from mainstream education. We also provide non accredited youth projects and after-school activities such as our current Anti-Knife Crime project: Drop the Knife Live your Life. We currently have 28 students enrolled with our alternative education project: Strike Out.
· Community engagement and social activities for children, young people, and adults e.g. youth sessions, art sessions, after-school clubs and community events. We have around 40 children and young people accessing these sessions each week and this will shortly increase with new projects starting soon. We also offer volunteering opportunities, work placements, and apprenticeships.
E2’s funding model is sustainable and has been developed over a number of years so that we are not reliant on grant funding for core costs. Around 70% of our income is generated through successful delivery of contracts mainly from our alternative education services which we provide to schools and pupil referral units across Leicester and Leicestershire. The other 30% is achieved through grant funding which helps us to deliver projects that address contemporary and developing needs of our community. Our reserves are set at a low level which is intentional as we try to ensure that the unrestricted funding we receive is utilised for the development and capacity building of our organisation and to ensure the quality of the services we provide are second to none. Our alternative education provision is a good example of this: and we are widely recognised across the city and county as one of the best providers with excellent results and attendance figures that underpin our reputation.