The husband-and-wife team behind fast-growing tech company UKFast have donated £5 million into a newly created charitable trust to give a helping hand to disadvantaged young people.

Lawrence Jones MBE, who set up the cloud hosting firm with wife Gail in 1999, is placing the funds directly into the UKFast Community and Education Trust, which seeks to improve the education, training and development opportunities available to young people, particularly within Greater Manchester.

The company said that the trust is committed to providing sustainable and lasting support for young people experiencing poverty, abuse, discrimination, exclusion and neglect.

It will also support individuals and organisations looking after young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.

UKFast has a history of similar initiatives which have formed its mission to improve digital skills, and also fund breakfast club at Holy Name RC Primary School, providing 22,310 meals for children across Greater Manchester during the school holidays as part of a Holiday Hunger initiative in 2018.

These initiatives have developed into partnerships with more than 60 schools and colleges.

Today the company reaches 60,000 young people across Greater Manchester and its education team runs more than 500 events each year.

CEO Lawrence said he was proud to be based in Manchester. “We made a conscious decision to work with the local community,” he said. “After all, it’s their home and it’s our responsibility to be a good neighbour.

“When we heard that Holy Name School, just a stone’s throw from our campus, had children who couldn't afford to pay 20p to attend a breakfast club we made a decision to get involved. Kids can't sit through lessons and concentrate on activities if they don't have basic nutrition.

“At the last count we’ve invested nearly £10m in various education programmes in the last decade across Greater Manchester. It's our intention to raise more funds, raise more awareness and inspire others to contribute. Our goal is to make this fund sustainable to maximise the impact it has over many years.

“We have problems in all of our towns and cities, where kids feel less empowered and further away from the bright lights they see on social media.

“We believe that one way to bridge this gap is by bringing digital education to the forefront and connecting young people to the opportunities in our industry, tackling the digital skills shortage at the same time.

“This is how we'll develop deeper relationships and partnerships to make a lasting difference, rather than it just offering short-term financial support. The trust helps us professionalise our efforts and kick-starts a new era with the addition of £5m.”

UKFast is also committing 5,000 volunteering hours annually to community projects through the trust, worth a further £67,000 a year, as well as value-in-kind donations of the firm’s facilities including its auditorium, which has hosted 1,500 young people to date in a series of free cinema screenings during school holidays.  

Cinema

Cinema

UKFast Director of CSR Russell Feingold added: “UKFast is passionate about making a difference to the lives of young people in communities across Greater Manchester.

“There is a huge amount of work to do and the formation of the trust allows us to make a much bigger impact and enable charities and projects to increase their reach and impact. We also aim to inspire and engage other business to do all they can to help disadvantaged young people in the region.”

UKFast Director of Training and Education Aaron Saxton added: “The trust was originally set up to concentrate our efforts on education, but we rapidly saw the need to extend the scope of the support to the community.”

The £5m fund is accessible to projects and charities that can prove their track record of delivering sustainable and impactful programmes that directly benefit young people, positively increasing the quality of their lives through education and personal development.

For more information on working with UKFast Community and Education Trust contact makeadifference@ukfast.co.uk