Students from schools across England, Scotland and Wales presented innovative solutions to help young people access support within isolated communities, thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery at national events in London and Edinburgh.

Following a rigorous selection process, students from twelve schools were invited to the national finals where they presented their independent research projects to a high-profile panel.

Each of the students who took part in the project received bespoke mentoring and support through Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s On Track To Achieve (OTTA) programme delivered by world-class athlete mentors. The project empowered participants to realise the key attitudes of focus, motivation, determination, confidence and resilience needed to achieve a positive life.

Working with their mentors, the student finalists came up with creative concepts to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst young people such as youth clubs, websites and apps to connect with each other.

Over the last four months, national charity Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has worked with 240 students from 36 schools in rural and isolated areas. All students were tasked to investigate and recommend new mentoring approaches that the charity could use to inform its future programmes in those regions.

Former Welsh professional footballer Christian Roberts, worked with five students from Welsh institution Hendrefelin School who created a website called Forget Segregate Integrate which brings together isolated young people in schools across Wales who are facing disadvantage. The site will act as a one-stop hub including support, employment opportunities and advice sections. The students have worked hard and have already got backing from the local council and partners to fund the project.

Prior to the national finals, schools took part in a series of regional events across England, Wales and Scotland to create, plan and execute their solutions. Each school group presented their ideas and recommendations, which included exploring methods of new approaches to mentoring through science, technology and community engagement.

Former athletes Team GB swimmer and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Grant Turner, Team GB Paralympic Judo player Darren Harris and retired Team GB swimmer James Kirton are just some of the athletes who have been mentoring the students. These athlete mentors have provided tailored support to enhance participants’ personal and social development through the setting of individual goals and targets.

Founder and President of Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Dame Kelly Holmes, said: “We believe that a young person’s life chances should not be determined by their postcode and are committed to finding new ways to engage with young people in isolated areas in England and Wales.

“Hundreds of students across the UK will benefit directly from our athletes as part of this project, however most importantly the research will help transform the lives of thousands more in the future who would otherwise experience difficulty in receiving support.”

Commonwealth Silver medallist and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete mentor, Grant Turner added: “Six months after retiring I started working for the Trust as an athlete mentor and it was something completely different to anything I’d done before. The transformations you see in the young people we work with from start to finish on programmes like On Track To Achieve is phenomenal. Growing up in a quiet town myself, it’s great to be specifically working with young people living in rural and isolated areas.

“It’s fantastic to work with young people who perhaps didn’t get the best start in life and provide them with new opportunities and change their way of thinking about the positive things they can achieve in the future.”

Head of Charities for People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, added: “Players of People’s Postcode Lottery will be glad to know the On Track To Achieve project is only possible thanks to the money they have raised. It will be exciting to see this develop and the journey of the young people involved.”

The On Track To Achieve programme was made possible following a significant Extra Award of £200,000 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.