‘Roots Foundation Wales’ founder receives Honorary Fellowship

11.07.2018

One of the founders of Roots Foundation Wales, Emma Lewis, has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David at a special graduation ceremony in Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall this morning (Wednesday, July 11).

Emma Lewis 1

Roots Foundation Wales is a volunteer-led charity based in Swansea that supports young people in care, care leavers, children in need and adults who have left care.  It’s a fast-growing project that literally started from the boot of her car.  Emma was officially take into care at the age of 9, when as she says, “it was apparent to them that I had taken care of myself for too long.” Her experiences helped to shape the charity that she now drives to help others in similar situations.

Roots Foundation Wales is an independent charity, led by a volunteer management committee whose diverse range of skills and experience enables them to have a clear understanding of the issues, needs and barriers for young people leaving care.  They offer workshops on finance, cooking, budgeting, health, employment, relationships and parenting, counselling and a mentoring service and facilities to assist with successful independent living.

The organisation, says Emma, was born out of passion and a need to support young people, many of who are vulnerable in an important time in their lives. Many young people in care lack essential skills and a good support network and can often feel lonely and isolated once they have left their placements. The Roots Foundation Wales aims to be involved in the lives of these individuals for as long as needs be and for as long as the client desires. 

On receiving the award Emma Lewis said:

“I’m delighted to receive this Honorary Fellowship award, it’s something that means so much to me.  I’m humbled and touched that I’ve even been nominated for the award.  It means a lot to me and my family but more importantly I hope I’ll be able to make the University proud. 

I’ve never belonged anywhere as much as I’ve tried – there’s a beautiful Welsh word, ‘Hiraeth’ and for those who don’t know, it’s difficult to translate because there isn’t an English translation but it’s a deep longing of wanting to belong and needing to belong to something.  I’ve searched and searched for that and these last couple of days with these wonderful people behind me they’ve made me feel a part of a family – strangers that I’ve never met have made me feel so welcome. ”

On presenting Emma Lewis to the congregation Karen Jones, Assistant Dean at the Faculty of Business and Management said:

“It is my great pleasure to present Emma Lewis for an Honorary Fellowship at today’s congregation.  Emma has a remarkable story of overcoming adversity, inclusive community and empowerment. 

Emma’s early life was exceptionally difficult where she endured a traumatic childhood.  Emma still struggles with self-confidence as a result of her childhood but she feels fortunate to have had the opportunities in her adulthood to make a difference to today’s young people and to provide the support that she didn’t have.  She believes passionately that the past should not define a young person’s future, that support must be available and accessible to young people and that they must be encouraged to believe in themselves.  Successes should be the norm for people in care and not for the minority.  Once again I’m delighted to present Emma Lewis to this congregation.”   

Emma lewis 2

Emma started volunteering in 1997 – upon leaving school – and was fortunate to be placed in a third sector organisation in Pembrokeshire and was subsequently employed as a Youth worker with Pembrokeshire County Council. After giving birth to her son, the family moved to Swansea. She became involved with the Minority Ethnic Women’s Network (MEWN), Communities First, EYST and Ty Fforest Community house – where she was supervisor and community worker for 10 years.

Whilst at Tŷ Fforest Community house in 2011, she came across young people in care that were falling through gaps in provision. Knowing their predicament only too well, Emma was able to offer help and assist in the simplest of ways – through volunteering, accessing clothing grants and ensuring they had something to eat and drink and somewhere where they could go to the toilet.

This help, with the right backing and surrounded by a dedicated team, has now turned into The Roots Foundation Wales. The project was featured last November on BBC’s DIY SOS 1

Children in Need programme, where the community came together to donate and build a new state of the art building equipped with Independent living apartments so the charity can teach young people who are on the cusp of leaving care, independent living skills.

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 / arwel.lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk