The Ariel Trust was founded in 1982 to open up the world of radio broadcasting to young people.
The catalysts for this ground-breaking venture were two studies, one by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Broadcasting Authority, the other by a leading charity, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. These seminal reports both concluded that, although young people listened to a lot of radio, they had little understanding of how programmes were made and broadcast. Something needed to be done.
The result was the Ariel Trust, an independent charity, committed to bringing radio broadcasting, and the opportunities that it has to offer, within the reach of young people.
Ariel's original mission remains central: to develop communication skills, creativity and confidence through the medium of broadcasting; guide our students to new achievements and open up access to new opportunities and jobs. In practice, many of these have been within the broadcasting industry, although we have never seen this as our primary goal.
From the beginning we have had strong and productive links with the industry. The foundations were laid by our first director, Phil Pinnington, who came to Ariel from BBC Radio Merseyside where he was Deputy News Editor and Producer. Phil also initiated Ariel's innovative work programme and high-quality courses, working with a wide range of students from mainstream and specialist schools, youth and other groups. And, with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, we were able to develop pioneering work with students with physical disabilities.
For a period of more than 20 years, Ariel delivered vocational programmes, which saw our students move into employment in an expanding broadcasting sector. This reached its peak during the period where Merseyside was an Objective One area and ESF funding was available to support vocational programmes.
As the ESF programmes came to an end, Liverpool was awarded status as ‘European Capital of Culture’ for 2008. This led to a growth of cultural funding in the city. Ariel worked with the City Council during the bidding process, developing a school project; a resource pack based on writing radio adverts, enabling teachers to run projects and enter their pupils’ scripts into a competition.
This resource pack represented the first step in the next phase of Ariel’s journey and to the organisation that we are today. In began a period where we developed a series of resources for teachers covering a range of issues, from alcohol misuse to tackling homophobic bullying. In all cases developing young people’s communication skills lay at the heart of our approach.
Today our resources are published as interactive websites and our focus is on issues of violence prevention and the safeguarding of children in Primary School settings. You can find out about these current programmes here.