Supporting children in care

Alex Reid was the driving force behind the launch of our Outlook Fund, which awards grants to projects supporting young people who face difficulties and disadvantages, with a focus on looked-after children.

Alex was a member of Cambridgeshire County Council, who represented the Newnham ward from 2003 to 2009. He was one of a group of councillors who were the legal guardians of looked-after children in the county.

A point was frequently made that, while the county council provides a good level of care for looked-after children, the life outcomes of these children are often not as good as their peers.

Alex Reid sitting in a suit by a desk, with his hand resting on the desk.

Children’s early experiences have long-term effects on their emotional and physical health, social development, education, and future employment. Children in care fare less well in school than their peers. Care leavers are also more likely to not be in education, employment, or training.

Although most looked-after children grow up in very caring homes, Alex believes that their lives are disrupted to such a degree that it has long-term effects on their life outcomes. A child entering care aged two, and remaining in the care system until they are 18, could pass through as many as eight foster homes. Sometimes there is a possibility that a child will be reunited with their natural parents, but they may be returned to their family only to be removed again if that is not a success, which adds to the disruption.

Alex, an architect, venture capitalist and former Royal Navy helicopter pilot, stepped down as a councillor in 2009 and began looking for “something to get stuck into”.

He decided to address “the distressing life outcomes” of children in care by establishing a charitable fund to provide opportunities for them, over and above what is already provided by the county council. Looked-after children receive accommodation, food, and the support of foster families, but the allowance received by foster families has a limit. It can be difficult to afford additional activities, such as days out.

According to Alex, the Foundation was crucial to the setting up of the fund.

I have known others who spent years setting up charitable organisations, given the sheer logistics of doing so. You need to do all the admin to set it up, recruit trustees and then manage it going forward. Instead, the Foundation offers a ready-made system for receiving and investing donations, as well as administering grant applications. The Outlook Fund would not have happened without the Foundation’s infrastructure, which helped to reduce the number of decisions I had to make. I was able to just get on with raising the money.

Alex Reid

As a starting point, Alex set out to secure donations from friends, successful local entrepreneurs, and corporates, some of whom were introduced to Alex by the Foundation. Alex’s own contribution to the Outlook Fund came from the sale of an antique clock, which raised £20,000. In total, more than 20 individuals and corporates contributed, resulting in more than £360,000 raised, including Gift Aid and government match funding that was available at the time. Alex then approached the county council who agreed to commit £15,000 a year for ten years.

The Outlook Fund is endowed, meaning that the initial donations were invested. Even with the fund’s returns being regularly distributed as grants, the initial endowment of over £300,000 has now grown to be valued at over £600,000. This promises a sustainable source of funding for looked-after children for many years to come.

The projects supported by the Outlook Fund create new opportunities for children in care, giving them the chance to go to special events, such as concerts, football matches, or the theatre – activities that Alex believes can inspire and influence the children’s life choices.

The grants offered by the Outlook Fund are small amounts in the grand scheme of things. Taking children on days out, paying for sports clubs or art classes – many of us take these for granted. By ensuring that looked-after children also access these opportunities, we can open their eyes to interests that they otherwise might not have considered pursuing.

Alex Reid

Over 7,000 looked-after children supported to date

Case study

KICK received a grant to host a residential experience for siblings who were not living together. This offered an opportunity to enjoy time together without the restrictions that are often present when involving parents.

A young person pointing a bow and arrow to the left.

Supporting young people and their families facing difficulties to prevent possible descent into crisis.

Case study

Home-Start supports vulnerable families to prevent crises which could lead to children being taken into care.

Trained volunteers meet with families and provide bespoke practical, compassionate and emotional support which is non-judgemental, confidential and free. The volunteers aim to empower each supported family and enable them to become independent of Home-Start’s help.


The Outlook Fund demonstrates how one motivated and passionate individual can encourage others to commit funds to a good cause, as well as channelling local and national government money to create a substantial endowed fund.

After many years of supporting the Outlook Fund’s grants award panel and engaging with supported projects, Alex recently decided it was time to step down from his role in the fund. However, his dedication remains truly inspiring, as he continues to advocate for greater support for looked-after children.

In the future, Alex hopes to see more collaboration between organisations in our community to support children in care. The activities, events, and other opportunities that they could benefit from are already there. We just need to increase our efforts to connect these opportunities with looked-after children and ensure that their cost does not pose a barrier to participation.

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