“There’s nothing else like Golddigger Trust for young people like me and it really helps to have somebody else to talk to. I feel really sad that I’m 18 now and so soon I wouldn’t be able to come anymore. I feel that I’d struggle without it because there might not be anything else for me.”
These are the words of 18-year-old Charlotte, from Sheffield, for whom the unique services of Golddigger Trust have been a lifeline.
In 2005, three women from Sheffield came together to explore the idea of creating a project that would support young people with their self-esteem and life choices, empowering them to understand and embrace the treasure within.
Motivated by their Christian faith, founders Rachel Scott, Amanda Toombs and Claire Altamura believe that each young person had the potential and ability to live a full and positive life, and strive to bring about transformation through empowering young people to make positive, informed choices for themselves.
Golddigger Trust became a registered charity and has been going from strength to strength as more youth workers have been inspired by the vision and joined the team.
Today, 13 years since its inception, Golddigger Trust, which is supported by BBC Children in Need, has worked with tens of thousands of young people and brought about real, lasting change in the lives of young men and women through a number of innovative projects.
Many of the young people Golddigger Trust works with have suffered horrendous sexual abuse, or broken homes or are struggling with mental health issues, but the Trust aims to make sure that’s not the end of their story.
The success of Golddigger in empowering young people is now seeing others wanting to follow its example. There are currently 19 teams around England and Scotland delivering Golddigger’s programmes.
Beth Stout is chief executive of Golddigger Trust. She said: “We are passionate about seeing lasting transformation in the lives of those we support, as we journey with young people, unearthing value and empowering them to make positive choices for their futures.”
Beth gave a up her job as a youth worker in Liverpool nine years ago after hearing about the work of the Golddigger Trust.
“It was just the best thing I had ever seen for young people and I wanted to be a part of it,” explains Beth.
“I gave up my job and moved to Sheffield.”
At first Beth held down a number of others jobs in order to volunteer at Golddigger, which was still in its early days.
“There was really just me and Mandy (Amanda Toombs).”
Through their hard work and belief, they have grown Golddigger to what it is today. They are in the process of employing their 1oth member of staff and, in 2016, opened them Golddigger Trust Centre For Young People on Psalter Lane in Sheffield.
Last year they helped 1,300 young people in Sheffield and Rotherham aged 11 to 18.
But now Golddigger wants to expand to continue to help young people up to the age of 21.
“At the moment support for young people seems to finish at 18 when they are no longer deemed children,” explains Beth,
“But that is really when a lot of them need more support. They are out of education and the care system. We can see a real need for continuing to support these young people for longer, until they can really stand on their own two feet. Just because they turn 18 doesn’t mean their problems suddenly disappear.”
Golddigger is launching a fund-raising campaign to extend its services with the first event, a charity auction, taking place tomorrow.
Beth says the main function of Golddigger is to fill the gaps not filled by statutory organisations.
In the past child sexual exploitation has been high on their list.
But once the horrors of the child sexual exploitation that had been taking place in Rotherham leapt to the forefront, Beth said it was time for Golddigger to move on to the next thing.
“We tend to support young people where there isn’t any other support.”
And that need, they believe, is not only for 18 to 21-year-olds, but coping with the increase in mental health problems among young people.
“Above all we listen to what the young people want and need and are very responsive to what they say.
“We felt there was a real gap when it came to the mental wellbeing of children and so we have developed programmes around that, to help with their confidence and self-esteem.
“We go above and beyond what the statutory services can. We see every child as an individual and cater for their needs and centre support around what is going on their lives. For some it could be just to have someone different to talk to while others may need more therapeutic support.
One young person who has been helped by the Golddigger Trust is Chloe, 17.
“I used to think that no-one loved me and no-one cared.
“When I came to Golddigger Trust, I honestly could talk about anything. I would never wish my life before on anyone, not even my worst enemy because it was horrid.
“If it weren’t for Golddigger Trust I would not be here today. My life changed a lot. I’m a much more confident person now. I’ve grown up but if I didn’t have Golddigger Trust and the support I did have when my life was upside down I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Golddigger Trust is hosting its first annual fund-raising dinner and charity auction tomorrow at the Megacentre, Sheffield.
The evening, sponsored by Rich Tone Music, hopes to raise £15,000 to expand work among vulnerable young people to help them reach their full potential in Sheffield and across the UK.
Featuring an entertaining live auction with prizes donated by local and national companies, alongside celebrities and artists, including Wallace and Gromit creator, Nick Park, who has donated a sketch for the evening.
Tickets are available at £50 per person, or £360 for a table of eight, and are available via the Trust’s website www.golddiggertrust.co.uk