COMIC RELIEF CASE STUDIES: Youth project Trax and employment charity Aspire Oxford

Witney Gazette: Trax project worker Helen Bates with Taylor Fleming, 16, and Matthew Earl, 17    Picture: OX57090 Jon Lewis Buy this photo Trax project worker Helen Bates with Taylor Fleming, 16, and Matthew Earl, 17 Picture: OX57090 Jon Lewis

TRAX

YOUNGSTERS have learned about mechanics thanks to Comic Relief cash handed out two years ago.

Youth project Trax, based in Woodstock Road, Oxford, helps troubled children and teenagers and benefitted from Red Nose cash in 2011.

It teaches young people to focus on practical courses like mechanics by working with cars and motorbikes.

Project worker Helen Bates’s dad died when she was 13 years old, and she said her life was shattered.

Even counselling wasn’t enough to help her cope. But the 23-year-old from Iffley – pictured above with Taylor Fleming, 16, and Matthew Earl, 17 – took part in Trax projects to help her through and she now works as the organisation’s schools co-ordinator.

She said: “I love anything to do with riding on two wheels. For me it is about helping people who quite often are being given this experience as a last chance.

“We will give anyone a chance here. I love the fact that we can share the skills we’ve learnt and I know how much the project helped me.

“The kids I teach are all here for different reasons and from different backgrounds. I can notice a huge change in them and their behaviour between when they start and finish.

“It helps to come to a different environment rather than school or home. When my dad died my grades slipped, but Trax kept me on the right path.”

Trax manager Lyndon Biddle said the grant money was spent on a variety of things to keep the project going like mechanical parts for the motorbikes and cars for lessons.

ASPIRE OXFORD

EMPLOYMENT charity Aspire Oxford was one of 67 community groups in Oxfordshire which scooped Comic Relief cash last time around.

Aspire helps disadvantaged people with education and advice on job seeking and work experience.

Reformed drug addict Mark Lambert, right, first got involved with the charity seven years ago and has now worked there for two years. He said the project had helped save his life.

Mr Lambert, 43, from St Clement’s, said: “When I was younger I was in and out of prison on the wrong side of the law. I had taken the wrong path in life and got into all sorts of trouble.

“To be honest I don’t know where I would be without Aspire. I was convinced I would either die in prison or from a drug overdose and I had come to terms with that.

“But Aspire took me on as a volunteer and trained me up. They gave me my first proper experience of work.

“People didn’t seem to see the barriers I faced as a child. A lot of them were self-inflicted like the criminality, but I was a kid. As a kid I didn’t dream to be a criminal when I grew up. But I was left by myself from a young age to roam where I wanted and wasn’t taught any rules or morals.

“Aspire gave me a second chance, and I’m proud to be helping others who need it now.”

Last year Aspire, based in Oxford’s Osney Lane, helped 22 people into full-time jobs and 27 into part-time work.

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