Earlier this year we were approached by a local charity who coincidentally we share the name with – Red Balloon Learner Centre. We were asked to help produce a Bursary Pack that encourages fundraising, this fundraising enables Red Balloon to provide additional places for new students at their learner centre in Reading.
The name “Red Balloon” is not all we have in common, our offices are within walking distance from each other, and we saw this project as a great opportunity to support the local community and develop our team with an exciting brochure design project, so we were eager to help.
Throughout the duration of the project we developed a close relationship with RBLC. We got to know the teachers and students and even attended their end of year BBQ. We were able to experience the supportive community they’ve created to aid their students’ recovery and prepare them for the real world. Getting to know them helped us tremendously in shaping the vision for the ‘Bursary Pack’ we designed.
About Red Balloon Learner Centre
RBLC is a unique charity helping young people who are not getting an appropriate education due to severe trauma or bullying experienced in school. Their services are extremely important as every year there are thousands of young people in England who experience bullying and have their learning affected by negative experiences at school.
Red Balloon Learner Centre provides bespoke recovery programmes offering educational qualifications and a wellbeing curriculum consisting of counselling sessions, art and music therapy and personal development. This helps to build the students confidence in the staff and their ability to learn whilst preparing them to confidently return to mainstream education and society.
The Bursary Pack
The Red Balloon Learner Centre in Reading can work with 20 students at any one time and every year they fundraise money to provide at least two extra bursaries for young people. Without these bursaries, these young people wouldn’t be able to attend the Learner Centre and would become forgotten or just another statistic.
We were tasked with creating the ‘Bursary Pack’ to make it easier for RBLC to introduce their organisation and clearly communicate their values and mission and ultimately inspire people to support their cause.
As a starting point we took a look at the brochures previously produced by RBLC, their new brand guidelines and an outline of the content for the new pack. We explored opportunities to build on the current style of documents produced with the aim to encourage people to support their cause. We believed that creating a tone that represents the positive effects RBLC has on young people’s lives was crucial for promoting their services.
To explore the content, tone of voice and visual identity, we undertook our Design Sprint process which allowed us to generate many new ideas and form a clear direction of where we wanted to take the brochure. Our Bursary Pack contains two documents, a brochure that gives an overview of the charity and the Bursary Fund, supported by a personalised letter from the Head Teacher directed at receiver of the Bursary Pack.
The brochure reflects RBLC’s warm and welcoming nature, achieved by using carefully selected photography of students’ artwork and imagery found around the Learner Centre that works alongside soft texture, warm colours and tones used throughout.
We picked the title ‘Removing barriers to a better future’ as it came up as a line multiple times during meetings with the head staff of RBLC. We felt that this line encapsulates what Red Balloon does for many young people around Reading so it felt right to bring it to the forefront of the brochure.
We recognised that their unique recovery programme focuses as much attention on education as it does with the wellbeing of their students. This effective method was the major message we wanted to promote in the bursary pack. We found it crucial to reinforce that Red Balloon offers the same educational qualifications as mainstream schools, whilst providing an emphasis on the wellbeing of their students and rebuilding self esteem and confidence to provide them with the tools necessary to return to education or work.
To give potential donors confidence that their money will make a real difference in the lives of young people we needed to explain what the Bursary Fund is and who the bursaries are awarded to.
We highlighted success stories and testimonials from students to provide reassurance that RBLC gives young people the chance to build a brighter future. One of those success stories was a case study of ex-student Josh, who shared his story with us and explained how Red Balloon helped manage his anger issues, motivated him to re-engage with education and even encouraged him to start his own gardening business.
We also found it important to highlight that local institutions like Reading Buses and Reading Uni Students Union have given recognition to Red Balloon in the past by choosing them as their Charity of Year.
What we learned
Taking on this project was a great learning experience for our new team member Dominik and developer Mark. Dominik being completely new to the industry at the time gained invaluable experience in working in a professional environment and interacting with the clients as the project evolved and Mark had the opportunity to involve himself in the print design process.
It was a great chance for Dominik to put into practice what he has learnt about Red Balloon’s Design Sprint and for Mark to work the whole process from a perspective of a designer. They’ve both learnt a lot about the the standard practices undertaken to deliver a print design project, manage client’s needs and work effectively in a team.
We aimed to create a document that builds a more substantial narrative around the charity, going beyond the Bursary Pack, that helps to promote their organisation and services for many years to come. Our hope is that this brochure will help to form part of the charity’s brand identity moving forward by providing distinctive and playful design elements to fully represent their crucial mission and ethos.
Red Balloon Learner Centre have recently started fundraising using the new Bursary Pack and already started to received some great feedback. We’re really excited to see what impact our work will have on their organisation going forwards and look forward to supporting them further!