Red Balloon Learning Group

Red Balloon provides a full-time intensive recovery programme for children and young people who self-exclude from school as a result of severe trauma or mental ill health, often associated with bullying. Many of them want to learn but are too anxious or frightened to attend a mainstream school.

When students start with Red Balloon they have had zero attendance at school and yet after working with Red Balloon for between an average of three to six terms, 95% of students make a successful return to mainstream or special education, training or work. The charity runs four physical Learner Centres and a virtual online centre, Red Balloon of the Air (RBAir), which enables them to reach young people who cannot attend a centre due to their location or their mental health. Last year, Red Balloon supported over 200 students and has waiting lists for each of its centres and RBAir. The charity carefully reviewed its options for expansion to meet demand and applied to the Trustees for a grant to help them build the capacity of RBAir and its associated satellite centres so that it can reach over 300 young people a year in a cost-effective way.

The charity demonstrated that they had thoughtfully planned for this growth by strengthening their management team and were actively seeking to diversify their funding streams.

“The Garfield Weston Foundation has played a crucial role in enabling Red Balloon to grow from a small, local charity in Cambridge to the national network that we run today. We are delighted that the Trustees believe in our vision, our model and our ethos. Their grant not only provides security for forward planning but helps leverage other philanthropic support.” Dr Carrie Herbert, MBE, Founder and President of Red Balloon