Bright Sparks is a sport based education and training programme that uses the unique values and ethics of rugby union to effectively engage and inspire identified young people to make the most of their personal and educational opportunities. The programme, developed throughout a 10-year period, is a fully accredited 38-week education and intervention programme for ‘at risk’ young people from the most deprived wards of Greater Bristol. These young people are identified as being at risk from issues such as permanent exclusion, anti-social behaviour and potential imprisonment. Put simply, Bright Sparks addresses the ongoing need for a preventative and holistic programme to address personal and educational underachievement for targeted low achieving/ challenging pupils from disadvantaged areas of the city.

During October, Bristol Rugby Community Foundation was delighted to announce Chartered Financial Planning Firm, The Aspire Partnership LLP as a sponsor of the Merchants Academy’s Bright Sparks programme for the 2017/18 academic year.

Craig Capel, community development manager at Bristol Rugby Community Foundation, said: “The support from Aspire Partnership meant that the Bright Sparks programme continued to deliver its great work in one of the most disadvantaged wards in Bristol. After meeting with Ian and the team, it was clear they had the same passion to make a positive change in young people’s lives and help where they can.”

Ian Larthe de Langladure, Partner at Aspire, said: “We’ve been supporters of Bristol Rugby for a number of years and more recently have been able to support the ‘Break the Cycle’ fundraising event for the Bristol Rugby Community Foundation. This involvement has given us an insight to the work of the Foundation and has led us to focus the support that we can offer via the Community Foundation into the Bright Sparks programme. This is an excellent program which will have a positive effect on young people. The young people that the Bright Sparks programme is looking to engage with are in the formative years of their school career and already on the cusp of making poor choices and suffering the consequences of these decisions. Intervening at this point to help them gain confidence and achieving a qualification could be the making of them. The values of the programme – teamwork, communication, perseverance – sit well with our values. In years to come they could be ‘successful in business’ and that’s exciting. That’s why Aspire support the Bright Sparks programme.”

Capel added, “We looked forward to exploring further how Aspire could influence some of the outcomes of the Bright Sparks programme. This was realised recently when Ian and Ken planned and delivered a session for the Bright Sparks cohort at Merchants Academy. The session explored what lifestyles young people wanted when they left school and, importantly, what job and qualifications will cover the cost of that lifestyle. The input from Aspire was eye opening for most students, contributing to why school and the Bright Sparks programme is important to those that may find it a little challenging at times.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of Bristol Rugby Community Foundation across the city, click here or email