John Grant AM has been an accountant, investment banker, venture capitalist and company director during his 60-year career. He has had a lifetime interest in philanthropy but In recent years has become more actively engaged, as Chairman of The Grant Family Charitable Trust.
The Grant Family Charitable Trust was established 2010 and is focussed on providing support to the mental illness and homeless community, the arts (visual and performing) and wildlife conservation.
John’s experience in venture capital, engaging with good people and their ideas; working alongside them in achieving their goals; and seeking at the same time to develop sustainable entities that will deliver these new ideas over the long term has strongly influenced his approach at his family’s Foundation.
How did you first become involved with the work of the Foyer Foundation?
It became involved in supporting The Foyer Foundation and its various affiliates through Keith Bryant in his then role as Chair of Wentworth Housing, a significant community housing organisation in western Sydney and as a Director of The Foyer foundation.
Our initial involvement was in co -developing and co-funding a collaboration between the BSL-led Kangan Foyer in Melbourne and Youth Insearch. Youth Insearch, is an east coast personal development and recovery organisation for disadvantaged youth between the ages of 14-20, utilising peer-led intensive weekend camps and facilitation programs.
Favourable learnings were gained from that collaboration in developing Foyer pathways for the broader disadvantaged youth community and this is now being rolled out through three BSL lead Foyers in Victoria.
I am very keen to make available the Finnish developed Open Dialogue process for family and peer support into the Foyer process for Foyer workers and their support, through our co funded St Vincent’s Open Dialogue Initiative. We are fortunate that Kristof Mikes-Liu from Centre for Family based Mental Health Care, Dr Paul Denborough and Rachel Barbara-May from the Alfred Headspace Early Youth support services, are attending this year’s Foyer Conference to share their first hand experiences with Open Dialogue.
What stood out for you about the Youth Foyer model as distinct from our other youth support programs?
I believe safe places are the start of the long process of being able to understand and understand ones’ own unique position so as to look forward positively to recovery and opportunities for the future, rather than being trapped by the terrors of the past. The customised Foyer facilities and their fully trained on site staff provide a very secure base.
Foyers through the BSL documented Foyer process that involves: a careful assessment of eligibility, a clear deal between the incoming young person and the Foyer team, of personal development and education, and a tailored pathway forward for the individual with pre-agreed milestones, is a great model for maximising opportunities and outcomes.
Too often other programs, while being well meaning with lovely people do not provide the support structure that I see is being provided by well managed Foyers.
What ‘s your personal philosophy on supporting young people who experience disadvantage?
As much as I may want to understand their experience and challenges it is beyond me. However, I do know that with drive, opportunity and support, young foyer residents, like the many more fortunate young people in their community can also build productive, independent lives and make an important contribution to the shared community.
How does the work of the Foyer Foundation align with this?
The Foyer provides a basis, a safe place, dedicated good people, a proven documented but evolving process to provide the best outcomes for residents, and hopefully for many more disadvantaged young people in the community through alternative but aligned pathways.