Rosie Minnigin - My Time With The Rank Foundation

I had not even sat my GCSEs when I first heard about the Rank Foundation. Coming from a state school, I had applied to a private school sixth form, knowing I could only attend if full financial support was available. I knew it was a long shot, but what did I have to loose?

I was interviewed by the headmaster of Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) in December 2002, who then recommended me to the Rank Foundation. I can still remember the day I got the letter through saying that I had a place at PGS thanks to the support of the Rank Foundation. I went into school that day on a total high. My friends and I were so excited (although they were all scared that going to a private school was going to turn me posh!) I do not think we did much work that day!

So I started my new school the following September. It was a nerve wrecking experience, but also very exciting. PGS had so many facilities I had never experienced at a school, and there were so many opportunities available to me. I joined the choral society and was able to sing Carmina Burana at Portsmouth Cathedral. The academic support was amazing; teachers were so accessible and willing to help. There were specialist revision classes that were integral to me getting the required grades to get into Oxford University. I will start reading Experimental Psychology at St Hugh's College in October 2005.

However, the support from the Rank Foundation did not end there. One of the conditions of the school award was that I was to spend two weeks doing work experience at another organisation funded by the Rank Foundation. I was sent to the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, London. I must admit I was a little sceptical about this at the start as I had never heard of the organisation or done any youth work before, but I gained so much and had such an amazingly good time that I proceeded to apply to the Rank Foundation for funding to do a gap year there as part of their Gap Scheme (incidentally, before my work experience I was planning to study engineering at university, and it was my time at Salmon that led me to change my choice of degree course at rather late notice!). After interviews with both Mark, the director of Salmon, and Pete, my now line manager, I was accepted onto the gap course, and that is where I am now!

I currently work in the following sessions; girls group, a young mums support group, 10-13s mixed club, a girls group with London City YMCA in Old Street and 6-9s club. Throughout the year I have also worked with young people with autistic spectrum disorders and with groups in schools.

I have also had the opportunity to go on lots of residentials with young people including trips to Osmington Bay 3D Activity and Education Centre, Exmoor where we stayed on a farm and did horse riding, Shropshire, Ireland and Ipswich where we lived on a boat and sailed up the River Orwell.

I would not have had any of these fantastic opportunities if the Rank Foundation had not chosen to fund me through private school three years ago, in fact I would go as far as to say that the Rank Foundation has completely changed the course of my life. Their support has been far from being purely monetary. The support I received (and still do) from Peter Attenborough during my time at school and now Charlie Harris has been amazing - they are always interested in what I have been up to! I was delighted last month to receive my certificate for my work on the gap scheme and I will be very sad to leave it at the end of my year.

May 2005.

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