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Lawrence Atwell’s Charity

Registered charity number: 210773


Offers grants to young people who would struggle to get training without some additional financial support.

By doing this we help young people between the ages of 16 and 26 to learn new skills and make their way into work. We cannot help if you are still in secondary education, studying for GCSEs or A Levels, or studying any other course that is not vocational.

If you can answer yes to all the following questions you can apply 

  •  Are you aged 16-26?
  •  Are you a British citizen, asylum seeker or refugee, or have you lived in the UK for 3 years before the start of your course?
  • Is your parents’ income less than £26,000 per year, and has been so for some time?
  • Are you undertaking training that is vocational or a 'First Step' as defined below?

We can offer grants towards vocational training

  • Accredited training courses like a BTEC, City & Guilds, NVQ - Level 3 or below
  • Qualifications to work on the railways, drive trucks, security services, work at heights or offshore
  • Art Foundation Courses and Access Courses

Companies that employ young people know these kinds of qualifications will get you ready to join the world of work. Find out about courses that match careers you are interested in at the National Careers Service website.

We can offer grants towards ‘First Step’ Courses aimed at people with no formal qualifications

  • Courses that enable you to study and get your education on the right path to improve your job prospects and help you to take control of your future
  • Example courses - NVQ Level 1, BTEC First Diplomas/Certificates, and other entry level, access, and foundation courses

How can we help?

If you are hoping to start some training but are worried about how you can afford the fees, travel to college, buy the required equipment or pay for other costs associated with the course, then Lawrence Atwell’s Charity may be able to help you. We can consider courses that take place over a number of years as well as shorter training courses. In all cases, the course to be taken should be an essential step towards a vocational qualification or towards employment. The course also needs to be accredited or recognised by a regulatory or independent professional body. We may consider applications for those in need of equipment essential for work.

Facing barriers? We would encourage you to apply if you

  • have no or few qualifications after leaving secondary school
  • have very limited or no support from your family, because of the loss of one or both parents, because you have been in local authority care, or because your  family relationships have broken down
  • have a disability (physical or mental health issues)
  • are a lone parent
  • have fled persecution in your home country
  • are an ex-offender or at risk of offending

How to apply?  Complete our Online Eligibility Quiz

Now that you have read about who we are and the kind of young people we help, you could take our online eligibility quiz  or you can login here to return to an existing application.

We can only accept online requests

If you have any difficulties with this please contact us for help.

For all enquiries, call Patrick O'Kelly on 020 7213 0561 or email atwell@skinners.org.uk

Our offices are open every Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm. When writing to us, please ensure you include your name, address, day-time phone number and your email address.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of grants do you make?

Our grants can range from £100 to £1,500 - successful applicants may receive a one-off award or a series of payments across the duration of a course of study.

We can consider grants for

  • Tuition, enrolment, registration and examination fees - these grants are usually paid directly to your place of study
  • Contribution to general living expenses during training - accommodation, food, bills, travel to college - payments usually made directly to your bank account
  • Specific items and one-off costs - grants for essential childcare, tools, or equipment - grant payments usually made directly to the supplier on receipt of invoices

Why is family income important to eligibility?

Young people who grow up in low income homes face major barriers in their lives and life chances, especially when it comes to finding and paying for the kind of training and work opportunities they want. This is why our grants need to reach applicants from families who have been dependent on benefits or on low wages for years.

Applicants must come from families where the gross annual household income is under £26,000 and has been so for some years. We cannot accept requests from anyone who does not come from this kind of financial background. It also means that we are unable to help in instances where a family living in relative affluence has fallen temporarily on hard times.

We ask all applicants about their family's financial circumstances, no matter how old they are, or if they now live independently. The only exceptions are where family relationships have broken down and/or if applicants are parted from their family, through seeking asylum for example. We will confirm this when approaching applicants' referees in confidence.

Do you interview people?

No. We wish we could meet all applicants face-to-face to learn more about their particular needs, but this is not possible. Instead we rely on referees to tell us more about each applicant’s unique circumstances. As part of our application process, we ask applicants to provide us with contact details for two referees.

  • One referee is usually a recent teacher, tutor or employer – someone who is well placed to talk about the applicant’s potential to complete their chosen training course and find the job they want.
  • The second reference is more personal, because we ask for information about the applicant’s personal/home circumstances. This is especially important where young people have become estranged or parted from their families.

We prefer applicants not to forward pre-prepared reference letters to us. This is because we ask specific questions and need to be sure that each reference is up-to-date. We do not disclose information about any applicant’s background or personal finances to anyone outside the Charity. However, we need to tell referees who we are and what we do, so that they fully understand why they are being asked to support individual grant applications.

Who are suitable people to nominate as my personal referee?

  • Support worker or social worker
  • Church leader, mentor, coach, adviser, family friend
  • Health worker or counsellor
  • Previous employer
  • Prison officer or probation officer

Do you make loans?


Can I apply to more than one charity?

Yes. We encourage applicants to research and apply to as many charities as they can. Many charities like ours work together to help someone to realise their ambitions. We all rely on beneficiaries keeping us up to date about their successes in obtaining funds from other sources. Applying to other charities will not jeopardise your chances of receiving an award, so long as you still have costs to cover.

How do you make decisions?

Decisions on grants are made by a Committee which usually holds meetings in July, September, November, January, April or May. Once the Committee has made its decision on an application, we will inform the applicant of the outcome of their request within 3-5 working days of the meeting.

Do you have a deadline?

No. Applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Our funds are limited, and applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible.

How long does the application process take?

From a few weeks to two to three months. This often depends on how long it takes to get responses from referees.

Can I post you the application form?

No. Our process is online, but it is possible to print out the questions to enable discussion between you and your adviser before the form is completed online.

Where can I find details of other sources of funds?

More information about other sources of funding can be found through the Useful Contacts page.

Who was Lawrence Atwell?

Lawrence Atwell founded his charity in 1588 "to set poor people on work". Little is known about his early life, but his family had been living and working in the Exeter area for at least 200 years. In 1564 he made his way to London where, as an adventurous merchant trader, it seems he lost and made several fortunes in his "losses and crosses by land and sea". Perhaps it was his own periodic experiences of poverty and having to battle to make his way in the world again that led to the creation of his charity. Atwell became a member of the Skinners’ Company, one of the ‘Great Twelve’ livery companies of the City of London. Today, the Skinners’ Company acts as his charity’s trustee.