Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Don’t put off till tomorrow...


Don’t put off till tomorrow...

With that in mind, I have decided I need to update the blog or it will be 2013 and my fledgling writing career will be somewhat stillborn!

When I began this secondment, I had a brief on what the role was and an area in which to work. Past that there really have not been that many ground rules, which at first I thought was really emancipating but quickly realised I was more of a creature of habit than I may have proclaimed.

Having a sense of purpose and direction is so very important and that is probably why so many of us crave belonging. For some it will be a sports club, choir, book club etc, but for most of us it is our workplace that provides so much. The sense of community I have been lucky enough to enjoy in several locations and the connections that develop, many of which are sustained for decades help us all complete the picture of who we are. This focus is something we all take for granted and it’s this that I would like to take a little time to consider.

Our education system is focused on trying to ensure that all our young people attain 5 A-C GCSE’s, which for most makes sense and allows them to continue education or enter the workplace with at least a basic grounding which will serve them well in the future. The conundrum comes where we have young people whose learning style is not typically Maths and English. So they may not get the GCSE’s; feel disenfranchised and fall out of the future pool of potential employees.

Ok, you say, but that is the system and so you do your best. Well in part I agree, I was never the best student but my parents and grandparents imbued a sense of purpose in my siblings and I and a strong work ethic that got me through the difficult periods. Now I hope I have passed this on to my children and seek to support others were appropriate. The difficulty comes when there isn’t a role model or a reason to do the homework, maybe no history of employment or possibly there are long term “other” issues within the family.

So what can we do? Well over the past four months I have met some amazing people, who are seeking to support various groups in our communities (and yes some communities are better at helping themselves than others) but can we utilise your skills and capabilities to greater effect? 

Well for those of you that are Lloyds Bank employees you may want to circle May 17th in your diaries, as that is the “Give and Gain Day” for the Group. If your local team resources allow, you may be able to spread that time across a number of different activities not just one 8 hour slot. If you are planning to take advantage of the time provided, yet don’t have a charity or community organisation to work with then let me know and I will connect groups who will really benefit from your time and expertise. 

Better still let me have the names of three businesses that we can get involved in our wider community. By the way, don’t worry if it is outside Leeds (many of the recipients will be) as there are connectors springing up in more and more places.

Parish Notice!

I wanted to say a few thank you’s to people who are looking to make a real difference.

Firstly, The Turnaround Foundation, supported by Endless have agreed to support a Talent ID programme based at the David Young Community Academy, as well as getting involved mentoring some of the students and staff to help support continued professional development. This is a huge outcome for all at DYCA and the result of many months of discussions and the kind indulgence of Chris Clegg.

Secondly, I won’t name him, but wish to thank the MD of a very well known Yorkshire based business who has agreed to support a project called OIL (Opportunities Inspiring Learning). They will seek to guide the people running the project, help with destinations for those going through the programme and allow students of the project to visits their sites.

Last but by no means least; I have been seeking support with the provision of school shoes. One of our business community has come forward to help and we are now working out how best to do this, so that the appropriate primary schools can be helped and that it is handled in the most delicate manner.

Thank you to you all.

The Big Lottery

The Business Connector programme is supported by a grant of up to £4.8m over the next 5 years and last week, I got the opportunity to talk to a wider audience about the programme and what the connectors are involved in.
There were presentations from a broad range of charities including one that I felt deserved mention. It is called “Pub is the Hub” http://www.pubisthehub.org.uk/ . Their vision is about matching community priorities to new services which can be provided by great licensees in their pubs. It’s about bringing interested groups and organisations together, often for the first time, to meet common goals and help local initiatives take place.

In Kind Direct (IKD)

I mentioned this a little while ago briefly and the dynamo of an MD Robin rang me to ask if I could say a little more and really help you all understand what working with them can mean. 

Well here goes. IKD work with an increasing number of manufacturers and retailers were they enable to redistribution of slow moving or discontinued lines. They only charge an administration fee for providing them. Have a look at this video as they operate nationwide. http://www.inkinddirect.org/IKDvideo_3m57s

If you are a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer then why not think about clearing that valuable warehouse space and letting In Kind Direct help lots of people.

Thanks for reading and remember don’t wait to get it done!


Monday, 10 December 2012

Half Term already?

Striking the right balance or at least trying to
I often comment about where the time has gone, not having done what I had wanted and regrets yes I have had a few! My time with Business in the Community (BITC) has been hectic and the last 4 weeks has been no different, but most definitely in a positive way. I continue to meet some great people who are working in quite difficult situations with ever decreasing amounts of money, but somehow they don’t appear to be downbeat.
As many of you will know I can be a little single minded at times and yes stubborn, but selfish? Over the past few months I have been lucky enough to be operating in a totally different environment and I have been allowed time to review what I did, how I did it and what I might change if my time machine invention ever comes to fruition!
At a recent event at Lloyds Bank’s offices at Lovell Park in Leeds, along with my BITC colleagues         Jo Crossley and Michael Harvey we were determined to try and increase the participation amongst the Lloyds teams there. We left with approaching 100 people having committed to some form of activity and many more at least having acknowledged that they will think about it.
That said there were a number who suggested a lack of time or their “day job” stopped them.  Most of us are so busy trying to keep up with the job and provide for our families that we don’t see it as selfish and I don’t know the circumstances of the people I met, but my question is how often have I used the same excuse, convinced myself that my current project or meeting is so much more important than what I could be doing? If you can find the time take a quick look at Umair Haque’s blog http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2012/10/making_the_choice_between_mone.html and let me know what you think.

Another day another great contact
Not sure how many people will be thinking of decorating the spare room or their football club or even your local school needs a lick of paint, but if that is you and you are in Leeds then you may want to look up Seagulls Reuse. This is a great little social enterprise run by two very dynamic ladies called Cat and Kate. They recycle paint from numerous Leeds City Council centres and sort the good stuff and then sell it on. There are numerous benefits, firstly they sell the paint from £1.50 per litre, secondly they have managed to employ a small but hearty band of people (freezing cold building by the way, only just thawed out!) and finally considerably less paint has to be disposed of. If you would like to know more then look them up on www.seagullsreuse.org.uk
If you are not in Leeds but like the idea of Local Paint resources then you can check via www.communityrepaint.org.uk  to see if there is a centre near you.

Imagine, it is 10.30 and you are feeling peckish, what next? 
A) Get a Mars bar from the vending machine (personal favourite!);
B) Start on your lunch early; or
 C) Contact Reds Larder.
The answer is C!
Why? Well Reds Larder (www.redslarder.com) is a new social enterprise I am working with who have been founded through a charity called Foundation. The people you will be helping by buying from Reds Larder are ex-homeless, ex-offenders or sometimes people who seem to have been left behind and are struggling to get back into any kind of job or training. Foundations programmes including Reds Larder are aimed at getting them to take ownership and to help with rebuilding their lives.
From only £3.69 you can enjoy some really healthy little snacks and if it is a sugar rush that is the order of the day after all then jelly babies and dolly mixtures are available! By the way some friends and I busily demolished the free sample provided.
Getting a Social Enterprise off the ground
How to get funding for any business is often the entrepreneur’s biggest challenge. Yes there are loads of great bankers out there only too willing to help, but how do you crystallise the idea, what will things costs and if you don’t have much money to start with, how do you get going?
Last week I attended a really interesting meeting by Unltd Ventures hosted by DLA in Leeds, discussing this very subject and there were also a number of entrepreneur’s that had made it and private equity houses solely dedicated to this marketplace. I have to say I didn’t know there was a market, but there is and it is alive and doing quite nicely.
If you want to know more look at www.unltd.org.uk
What next?
I have teamed up the collective skills and energy of Nic Greenan of LS14 trust and Kate Vaks at Fixers and so I am hoping they will make me a star! Failing this we are looking at getting some of the 16-24 age groups in Seacroft working together and sorting out their own problems. If it works then they may get an opportunity to be showcased on Local ITV news. No pressure Kate!
I am attending the next Leeds Chamber First Thursday meeting and would like to thank John Wells for his support. The PR piece is coming soon John!
And finally…
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” Henry Ford
Thanks for reading.