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Force behind Foyer has young at heart

Putting vulnerable young people in control of their lives is the ambition of alumna Jane Slowey.

As Chief Executive of The Foyer Federation, Jane (BA French and Italian, 1974) is heading a drive to help disadvantaged young people all over Britain make a successful transition to adulthood.

The Federation is made up of a network of 136 integrated learning and accommodation centres – known as Foyers. Run by agencies such as Housing Associations, the Foyers offer a residential place for up to two years as part of a package of individually tailored services including education, training, health and employment.

‘In exchange, Foyers expect the young person to commit to the process, with a contract to that effect,’ explains Jane. ‘Foyer isn’t just about accommodation. It’s a 'something for something' deal that equips young people with a whole range of skills and opportunities that enable them to achieve their full potential.’

Her focus on youth originally developed when, in a previous role as a Birmingham Labour councillor, Jane was involved with several community groups including the board of the local Housing Association. ‘They won the contract for what was planned to be the first new-build Foyer, which was my first contact with the Foyer concept,’ she recalls. ‘It was quite controversial at the time because it was radically different from anything else in this country, so it grabbed my attention.’

As a firm believer in the importance of education, Jane’s time at the University certainly left its mark. She worked at Birmingham after graduating and still lives in Northfield with her husband, MP Richard Burden. ‘I loved my time at university and I’m still in touch with several people from my time there. My current work with young people makes me very conscious of the privelege of a university education. I know how much education opens doors – I think it is the single most important factor in social mobility.’

Jane’s passion for her cause has not gone unnoticed and she was awarded the CBE in 2009 for services to disadvantaged young people. She says: ‘It was certainly a big surprise and a fantastic recognition not just of my work, but of Foyers and the work they do. I get a real sense of achievement from seeing young people who have been through the process talking about the difference the Foyer has made to their lives. It is truly humbling.’

Find out more at www.foyer.net/

Advocate: Alumna and Foyer Federation Chief Executive Jane Slowey visits the Coventry Foyer

 

Leader: Jane speaks for Foyer

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