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Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains partner with City Year to put Birmingham children and young people on track for success

Press release -

Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains partner with City Year to put Birmingham children and young people on track for success

The press release below was issued by City Year and is reproduced with permission.


Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains have teamed up with youth and education charity, City Year UK, to support its mission to tackle educational under-attainment and youth unemployment in Birmingham.

The partnership will see Virgin Unite providing £105,000 to the charity over three years while Virgin Trains will provide rail travel and mentoring support. The aim of the partnership is to assist City Year to develop its programme across the West Midlands to achieve a positive impact on thousands of children.

City Year galvanises the talent, energy and idealism of young role models to help children succeed in school. Operating in the UK since 2010, it launched in Birmingham in September 2013 and this academic year has 60 18-25 year olds volunteering full-time as ‘near-peer’ role models, mentors and tutors in schools in deprived areas of the city. Monday to Thursday, these young volunteers - or ‘corps members’ - are supporting 5,000 students in seven Birmingham schools, in and out of the classroom, with a mixture of 1:1 learning support, behaviour improvement and after-school activities.

However, in return, Fridays are dedicated to corps members’ personal and professional development to help them make a success of their lives after City Year.  Sessions vary from workshops, designed to build soft skills, such as public speaking and networking, to career exploration, CV and interview practice.

The Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains and City Year partnership will support the expansion of City Year’s schools programme in Birmingham over the next three years, giving more 18-25 year olds the opportunity to serve their communities, support disadvantaged children and improve their own employment prospects.

Sophie Livingstone, CEO of City Year, said:

“We are thrilled to welcome Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains as one of our new partners in Birmingham. They will help raise the educational achievement of many vulnerable children in the city, and also help local young people into employment.

“Whilst Virgin Unite is offering valuable financial support for our schools programme, our relationship will go much deeper as Virgin Trains will also provide in-kind support in the form of free complimentary train tickets and adult mentoring support for our young volunteers.”

 Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, said:

“We are excited that Virgin Unite and Virgin Trains are working with City Year to help expand its innovative schools programme into Birmingham. Our partnership will provide mentoring, rail tickets and the funds to support young people as they serve in schools. I am looking forward to hearing how they get on.”

For media enquiries please contact Alex Lowen ( / 0207 014 2697) or Rosie Davey ( / 07943628908).

Images are available on request

Notes to Editors

City Year

City Year is a leading youth and education charity and a movement for social change.  It gives 18-to-25-year-olds the opportunity to volunteer in schools in deprived communities for a year to act as role models, mentors and tutors in support of children’s behaviour and academic progress.

As well as the valuable experience gained serving in schools, City Year’s volunteers or ‘corps members’ receive one day a week dedicated leadership development, are introduced to their own mentors (professional people from City Year’s corporate sponsor companies) and receive skills coaching  to enable their future success in the workplace.

Operating in London since 2010, in September 2013 City Year expanded to its second city in the UK, Birmingham.

In their iconic red jackets, 50 City Year corps members in Birmingham work in teams across the following Birmingham primary and secondary schools:

Broadway School, Perry Barr

Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill

Holte School, Lozells

Parkfield Community School, Saltley

St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, handsworth

St Francis’ RC Primary School, Handsworth

Lozells Primary School, Lozells

The expansion to Birmingham has been supported by a group of Birmingham Founding Partners which include City Year’s first National Strategic Partner, The Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation.  Other partners include Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Vitol Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Rank Foundation. City Year was also awarded a grant from the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund to support our growth.

First established in Boston, Massachusetts in 1988, City Year also operates in 24 cities in America, as well as Johannesburg in South Africa.

For more information please visit our website:

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