A History of Endeavour – (as told by Patrick Callingham – Head of Centre)

Endeavour is a growing charity that works hands-on with some of Britain’s most disadvantaged, disaffected and forgotten young people. The education centre is located in Burngreave, Sheffield.

Endeavour was set up in 1955, by John Hunt and Dick Allcock OBE, who believed in getting young people outdoors away from the daily drudgery of urban homes.   They recognised that the outdoor environment is a powerful tool for working with young people.  Essentially, they felt that when you get young people out of their comfort zone you can start working on them and encourage them to experience new things.

Hunt is perhaps best known for being the leader of the successful 1953 British Expedition to Mount Everest.  Crucially, he did not summit himself and showed his leadership skills by recognising the strengths of others.  On returning home, Hunt felt that he had been fortunate to get so many incredible opportunities and decided to use his experience to create opportunities for others. 

Another founding member was Tony Streather, who believed in the transformative value of nature, taking unpaid leave to lead groups of disadvantaged young people on expeditions to far-flung corners of the globe.  Mindful of the risks, he always put comradeship first.

Initially Endeavour concentrated on providing outdoor education and set up expeditions to Iceland, Morocco, Ethiopia and other places.  In the 1980s and 1990s, when there was a lot of funding for training, Endeavour then ran apprenticeships alongside corporate training.

In recent years, since 2010, Endeavour has moved away from outdoor pursuits and towards education.  Patrick would love to get the funding to change this course slightly: to continue providing education but use the outdoor environment as a tool for breaking down barriers and building confidence.

Patrick says that the learners he works with often have a problem with going out of their comfort zone.  On a recent centre “Day Out” to the Peak District, a walk was planned from Hunters Bar to Stanage Edge (a well-known and trusted route for those living on the western side of the city).  Out of fifteen on roll that day, only two learners turned up to be transported by Endeavour to the starting point.  After phoning parents, Patrick heard their fears: it is not safe to go in to the countryside, they might get eaten by hyenas, there’s wolves, there’s no phone reception

Endeavour do everything they can to get these learners outdoors, get them engaged with their environment and thinking about their Everest moments.

Recently Patrick spoke to a cabinet researcher to explain why Endeavour deserves much-needed additional funding.  He talked about how and why children are missing from education in parts of Sheffield.  He talked about his learners and their attitude to the countryside: that if you go in to the countryside (in a car) you lock your doors, you drive and you don’t stop the car until you get to your destination, you don’t get out of the car because something bad could happen.  Even little practical things, “you follow a sign that says footpaths then there’s a gate: what do you do then?  Or there’s no more signs: how do you know where to go?”.

There have also been some success stories.  A handful of ex-students from Endeavour are now studying at University.  Haddi Homsi, who came to Endeavour as a refugee from Syria, now sits on the board of Trustees.

Patrick believes in the power of the outdoors, not necessarily climbing mountains, but being out of your home environment.  He also feels that a lot of learners don’t get the opportunity how to appreciate the countryside and he strives to share the philosophy of John Muir, who alongside Ansell Adams, set up Yosemite National Park in America.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike” John Muir

John Muir was also famous for taking U.S. President (Teddy) Theodore Roosevelt out in to the wilderness for a three-day camping trip.  He became a very powerful influencer, showing why natural areas need to be protected for benefit of the soul.  Endeavour still use the spirit of the John Muir Trust Awards today, helping young people to discover and share what they have learned.    


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