Social Mobility Foundation opens first Welsh office



The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF), a charity that works with high-achieving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, has opened a new office in Cardiff and it’s first office in Wales, adding to their offices in Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

The charity works with over 1600 young people each year and supports them into the top universities and professions through a 5-year programme that consists of mentoring, internships, university and job application support, and skills sessions.

Having supported students from Cardiff and Wales from their London office, the SMF now has a dedicated team in Cardiff to increase the depth and breadth of support they can provide to young people from the region. We received approximately 4 applications from Cardiff last year. This year we have seen a substantial increase to over 50 applications from Cardiff and the South Wales area.

Sally Weatherall, Regional Development Manager at the SMF, said the following about the new office: “We are really excited to be opening an office in Cardiff to support students across South Wales. The students we work with have the ambitions and aspirations to work in the professional sectors but don’t necessarily have the opportunities or networks to do so. We look forward to working with our first cohort of Welsh students this year, and with local employers to provide these opportunities.”

Cardiff High School pupil, Anni Chen, joined the SMF’s programme last year, taking part in J.P. Morgan’s Residential Programme. She said about her experiences of the programme:
“The SMF has helped me greatly throughout the course of my sixth form. The residential programme provided me with professional work experience that gave me a great insight into the world of banking. The mentors were extremely helpful, responded to every question in detail and offered guidance about universities. Besides that, the mentoring scheme has also helped me with job applications as well as personal statements, polishing them with professional opinions that you will not get elsewhere”

Melissa Cayford, a pupil from Y Pant Comprehensive School in Pontyclun , told us of how the support with her UCAS application and mock interviews had played a part in her receiving “ offers from all of the universities I applied to, including Cambridge”.

The SMF’s work in Cardiff is particularly welcome. Figures published in 2017 showed that there has been a 10% decrease in students from Wales studying at Russell Group universities over the past three years. Between 2014 and 2016, Wales was the fourth lowest region in the UK for University of Oxford applications, offers and acceptances.


According to the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation 2017 report, there are higher proportions of young people not in education, employment or training after Year 11 in Cardiff, compared with rural areas, despite better outcomes in working lives and the presence of a number of higher education institutions.

Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation is funding the office and the team will be based in Arup’s offices, one of the SMF’s partner organisations.