London charity celebrates decade of increasing disability employment and innovative cancer research

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The DFN Charitable Foundation (DFN Foundation) is celebrating a decade of improving special needs education, increasing disability employment, groundbreaking cancer research and championing wildlife conservation.

The DFN Foundation has achieved a milestone of 10 years' operating as an industry leading Strategic Commissioning Charity, partnering with the best-in-class charities or setting up its own to deliver the best results for some of the most pressing challenges facing society.

Founded in 2014, the DFN Foundation has strived to make a difference by bringing together the right talent, operating with a business mindset, and staying laser focused on specific goals.

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The DFN Foundation was initially focused on improving Disability Employment, Special Needs Education and Healthcare, with these issues all affecting Founder and Chairman, David Forbes-Nixon on a personal level.

DFN Foundation Founder and Chairman, David Forbes-Nixon OBE (right) with his son, Charlie.DFN Foundation Founder and Chairman, David Forbes-Nixon OBE (right) with his son, Charlie.
DFN Foundation Founder and Chairman, David Forbes-Nixon OBE (right) with his son, Charlie.

David said: “At the start, I wanted the DFN Foundation to focus on the two main causes that I was passionate about: supporting education and employment opportunities for young disabled people; and finding a cure for multiple myeloma.

“However, as we grew, we broadened our scope and we looked to take on some of the most pressing social challenges that often struggle to attract mainstream support because they are viewed as risky, difficult or simply impossible.

“In order to achieve this, I assembled a high-quality board of trustees for the DFN Foundation and we agreed to focus on education, employment, healthcare and wildlife conservation alongside establishing four main goals for the first 10 years.“

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Highlights for the DFN Foundation over the past decade include establishing a world class special needs school at Undershaw, and positively influencing best practice around disability employment through a separate employability charity, DFN Project SEARCH.

DFN Project SEARCH was founded in 2018 by David Forbes-Nixon to ensure that young people with special educational needs and learning disabilities receive high quality work-related learning and improved access to long-term paid employment.

Some 70% of DFN Project SEARCH graduates achieve jobs, and 60% achieve full-time permanent roles, compared to the national average of 4.8% of people with a learning disability who are known to local authorities. Moreover, DFN Project SEARCH has got 2,200 young adults with a learning disability and/or autism into jobs so far.

DFN Foundation’s work in healthcare has looked to improve survival rates of myeloma and advance cures through strategic funding of high-quality research which will benefit patients to live longer lives.

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As part of this funding, clinical trials of Optimum MUK9 saw 75% of the sample group in the trials still in remission 36 months after starting treatment: this makes it the most successful privately funded UK myeloma clinical trials ever.

The DFN Foundation’s effort to improve wildlife conservation have seen it look to ensure the survival of the British butterfly, through increasing awareness and sponsoring the Big Butterfly Count, a UK-wide citizen science survey.

David said: “On our tenth anniversary year, I think it is important that we take stock and look back on all the incredible achievements that we have had as a Foundation but also look forward to the next stage in our growth.

“As part of this, we want to continue to support Undershaw so it becomes a world class special needs school rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted across all categories and commit additional financial support to DFN Project SEARCH to help get 20,000 young disabled people into jobs by 2034.

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“We also want to support securing a route to market for OPTIMUM (MUKnine) clinical trials so that as many myeloma patients as possible can benefit from this pioneering set of drug therapies and share results globally through publications and presentations by Dr Kaiser.

“The DFN Foundation will continue our work in partnership with The Pangolin Project to ensure survival of the Giant Ground Pangolin in the Nyekweri Ecosystem in Kenya.

“Finally, we want to make sure that the DFN Foundation has a lasting impact and as part of our policy work we will launch the DFN Scholars programme and continue to work with Disability Employment Charter and the Centre of Social Justice and lobby policymakers in Parliament with a goal of reducing the disability employment gap.”

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