When I set the Memory Trust up, I thought like any start-up, I would start trading straight away. After all, I thought naively, it is a brilliant idea so let’s get going. August is a quiet time for me so while everyone was off to the beach, I stayed at home and filled in 24 funding applications. I researched a lot more than this, but failed to attain the qualification criteria of many. This is difficult and often tedious. It cannot be delegated because each proposal has to define the Memory Trust in a slightly different way. Some applications took three days to complete. And now, eight months down the line, I can give the results:
Rejections 18, Awaiting Decision 6, Successes 0.
The Memory Trust has a sustainable business model so the funding was meant to be a short-term investment to get pilots under way so as to establish that all-important track record. Despite the absence of a track record, I still tried to tender for work in the Welfare to Work sector, but understandably, people are reluctant to back an idea which is unproven.
There was only one way round this, and that is to become a self-financed volunteer. Monetary rewards for those participants who can fluently and accurately recite poetry from memory are an important part of how the Memory Trust works so these pilots are costly in terms of money as well as time. The freelance nature of my work allows me to undertake voluntary work but the participants’ rewards will be a costly drain on the family budget.
In order to minimise costs I decided to make the pilots as near to home as possible. The three sectors are prison education (HMP Wandsworth), substance abuse (Hammersmith and Fulham Drug and Alcohol Action Team) and welfare to work (Reed Partnership). The pilots are still at a very early stage but I will be reporting here on their progress.