Grant Thornton Leicester announces new charity partner

L-R: Grant Thornton’s Raj Parmar, Hitz Mistry, Matthew Crawshaw, Tom Copson, Jane Jones, Fayola Francis, with Soft Touch Art’s Christina Wigmore and volunteer Daniel.

The Leicester-based East Midlands regional office of business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP has chosen the city’s award-winning Soft Touch Arts as its new charity partner and beneficiary.

Leicester-based Soft Touch Arts, which has its multi-purpose city base on New Walk, is a charity and social enterprise that uses arts, media, and music activities to unlock the talents and build the aspirations and life skills of young people needing extra support to reach their potential.

Founded in 1986, the charity, which is well-known nationally for its ground-breaking approach, engages with more than a thousand 13 to 25-year-old young people each year, both at its Centre and in different community settings such as schools, youth centres and through street-based work in local neighbourhoods and in prisons.

Grant Thornton Leicester’s charity partnership with Soft Touch Arts is part of the firm’s strategy to work alongside and support local charitable organisations and social enterprises that are raising the aspirations and realising the potential of the city’s young people.

The firm’s Fayola Francis, a corporate finance executive and the firm’s local ambassador and lead of the sustainability team, is working with Grant Thornton’s leadership team and Soft Touch Arts on the 18-month campaign, and explains: “Through collaboration, Grant Thornton is committed to improving and increasing the level of support for local business communities to drive building a positive future, opportunities, and a vibrant economy for the UK in a step to build a society that creates opportunities for all.

“Locally, our charitable initiatives and support are an integral part of our achieving this goal. In particular this year, we were seeking a charity that puts young people at its heart, and one which works towards supporting young people to develop their skills and employability, and importantly, to raising their aspirations and life ambitions.

“Soft Touch Arts delivers on all counts, and the Leicester team is really looking forward to working with the charity, and especially one that is actively working to help local young people in Leicester and across Leicestershire.”

Christina Wigmore, the charity’s Business & Strategic Director, explains: “We use arts, media and music activities to make positive life changes for disadvantaged young people by supporting them to develop creative, social and employability skills.

“For young people who lack opportunities or have challenges in their lives, it can be hard to look forward to a positive future. Our projects help them get back on track when things have gone wrong, build the confidence and resilience to change negative or risky behaviours, and progress to lead more fulfilling lives.

“The funding we receive through different grants isn’t really enough to support everything we do, so Soft Touch Arts relies on donations and other ways of fundraising. Each year, the charity’s basic operational costs are in the region of £500,000, and so our partnerships with local businesses play a critical role.

“Not only do these provide vital funds to support our work, but partnerships also contribute significantly to raising and maintaining our profile and awareness of the charity’s work and aims. They also provide skilled volunteers to support our work with young people in all areas of our local community.”

She adds: “We are delighted that Grant Thornton in Leicester has chosen us as its charity partner. The team’s enthusiasm and positivity are clearly evident, and they have plenty of exciting and fresh ideas of how they will support the charity, as well as fundraise for us.”

Grant Thornton Leicester’s events programme will include fundraising quiz nights and auctions and members of the team running marathons, as well as scheduling in volunteering activities where staff will get involved with Soft Touch Arts projects and events.