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London charity The Upper Room launches its £50,000 ‘Big Give Christmas Challenge’ to get ex-offenders driving and on the road to work

The UR4Driving appeal runs from 28th November – 5th December, with donations made during that period doubled through Big Give

In the past 12 months, 35 UR4Driving students have passed their driving tests

The Upper Room is today launching a campaign to raise £50,000 to help fund its life-changing UR4Driving programme. The campaign is linked to the Big Give Christmas Challenge – an annual match-funding initiative for deserving causes.

UR4Driving is an award-winning project that reduces re-offending rates by teaching ex-offenders and young people at risk of offending to drive in return for voluntary work. A driving licence is a gateway to employment, and enables them to turn their lives around and re-engage with the community.

After gaining his licence in 2021, Roy Gelly went on to join UR4Driving as a Project Support Worker: “What The Upper Room has given me, above all else, is stability and security. Through the programme, I’ve been afforded independence and a window into new experiences I assumed were beyond me. At the charity, I see first-hand the positive impact of our outreach, as well as the knock-on effect it has for friends and family, too. I believe The Upper Room is vital because it offers ex-offenders something tangible. The ‘Big Give’ will go a long way in helping us to continue our great work offering people who might be feeling hopeless a way forward.”

Iain Cooper, CEO of The Upper Room, added: “60% of prisoners enter custody having spent much of their life outside employment, and 15% have never had a job. Having a driver’s licence opens up many employment opportunities, and having regular work is one of the single biggest factors in reducing both offending and re-offending.”

The campaign launches on 28th November.

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The Upper Room is a charity based in Shepherd’s Bush which provides a range of services to support homeless and vulnerable people. It was founded in 1990 and is staffed by a team of 15 employees and 80 volunteers. There are three projects: UR4Driving breaks the cycle of unemployment and re-offending among ex-offenders by teaching them to drive in return for voluntary work. UR4Meals provides fresh, hot food five days per week to people experiencing homelessness and anyone who is effected by the cost of living crisis. UR4Jobs provides multilingual employment support to people who face multiple barriers to finding work. For more information, visit theupperroom.org.uk, send an email to [email protected] or call 020 8740 5688. The Big Give runs match-funding campaigns for charities and special causes at key moments across the year. By connecting charities to funders (philanthropists, foundations or corporates) and the public, they help them double their donations. This year’s Big Give funder for The Upper Room is the Monday Charitable Trust. For more information, visit https://donate.biggive.org/.

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Lee Wakefield

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The CommsCo

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