Monday, 17 June 2013

The best things in life really are free!

Well as I hurtle towards the last full month on my secondment, I am reminded about the reasons behind wanting to take up the opportunity in the first place. When I began I was fairly rudderless and smile when thinking about all the wrong turns I made in the first few months.

Having direction, guidance, support call it what you will is so very important and I hope that I have been able to do this for a few people along the way. That said I have met an awful lot of inspirational people who will continue making a difference when I am back talking about loans, deposits and international trade. It will be important to see how I can take my experiences back to my job and look to build a more partnership related approach to activities with our communities.

Junk Play

The title of this blog really encapsulates this one. Following a discussion with one of the school liaison team, Viv Gibbons I was asked if we could get any “junk” items to help with a play scheme at Grimes Dyke Primary School.

After lots of offers, we visited the school with a number of items including old phones. Ok, not that special you may think, but let me tell you an 8 year olds imagination knows no bounds. Within 2 minutes they were not phones but space controllers and robot devices! The power of free thought and nobody telling them that they could not do it was extremely rewarding. The children also demonstrated what you can do with netting, ropes and barrels which were really inventive.

Now what is important here is what they learn, without even realising. They communicate and collaborate extremely effectively, as well as learning the interdependencies they have on each other to be a team success. 

Thank you to Karl Footitt at Grimes Dyke School and Natalie at Lloyds.


In the film Fight Club, the first rule was that you don’t talk about it. Well with Bikefest the first rule is that you do and you try and spread the word to as many people as possible.

Ok, what is Bikefest? Well it is the official Arts and Culture organisation for Welcome to Yorkshire’s (WTY) Leeds events prior to the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014. As part of hosting the Le Grand Depart WTY will provide 100 days of arts and cultural events to celebrate.

I am working with East Street Arts and Space 2 to support them with planning and connections in the run up to its launch, as well as helping them build a programme which we believe will make it the biggest and best Bike related festival in the UK. Now that just does not happen over night and there is a small, but perfectly formed steering committee chaired by Jonathan Riley at Pinsents and supported by Clive Goldstein at Union, Nic Greenan, Jon and Karen Wakeman from East Street Arts, Emma Tregidden from Space 2 and Councillor Roger Harrington.

We launch Bikefest at the Skyride that is taking place in Leeds city centre on the 7 July and if any of you are around please feel free to come along and say hello. I think I am in charge of leaflets, as the artists in the group have rejected by considered musings!

Oh and I nearly forgot. If you are a   Corporate and want to get involved,    please do get in touch with me.

The Big Connect - 12 July
The Big Connect is the first of what we hope will become an annual event, bringing together the growing network of Business Connectors from across the UK, along with the people and the organisations from the communities in which they work.  We are also inviting the companies, national partners and individuals who are supporting the Business Connectors programme and helping to make this network possible.

This high-profile, interactive experience is about sharing learning, building powerful networks and showcasing the great work Business Connectors are doing in our communities, changing people’s perceptions of business by demonstrating that business can be a powerful force for good.

During the event there will be a wealth of learning opportunities to help attendees get the most out of the day, including facilitated learning exchanges, roundtable discussions, plenary sessions, 1:1 learning ‘sofa sessions’, and interactive workshops on how to empower our young people, revitalise our high-streets, find the funding you need to scale up your work and make the most of your social networks.  

I have six organisations attending and will feedback on their thoughts and any lessons we can share.

A Little Extra Help from the Halifax

Recently I was lucky enough to spend some time with Halifax Community Bank and understand the challenges they face and how they are trying to help our community’s prosper. 

From this, local director Damien Greenwood asked how his teams could get more involved in Leeds and the types of areas he felt they could support. After a little thought, we met up with Mark Smith from Leeds Learning and John Smeaton High School.

Mark is responsible for various areas of pastoral work across 3 high schools and 14 primary schools in Leeds and is always looking out for practical long term support. In turn, he wishes to provide businesses the opportunity to get involved and possibly make a difference in our young people’s lives.

Damien and his colleagues are now going to look into a number of areas including work placements, in-branch interview skills training and teacher/pupil coaching and mentoring.
A huge thank you from me to Damien for taking so much time out a very busy diary, but if the last meeting was anything to go by then I know he and his team will benefit greatly.

Could you mentor someone?
Yes? Well if so then UnLtd Social Entrepreneurs could do with your help. They are looking for volunteer mentors to support current and alumni Award Winners on their exciting journey to make the communities we live in a better place.

Mentoring can be a very rewarding experience and they have a number of great opportunities across the UK. The support requests vary greatly, for example: 

·        Writing business plans                            
·        Sounding board/objective viewpoint
·        Sustainability
·        Accounting
·        Sales and forecasting
·        Marketing and branding
·        Routes to market
·        Generating income/funding
·        Import/export
·        Website and IT development
·        Social media
·        Tax/HMRC requirements
·        Legal structures 

If you can offer your time and skills in ANY of these areas to help guide social entrepreneurs through the process then please contact

And finally…
I started off by talking about my secondment shortly coming to an end and making a few wrong turns. Well I am delighted to announce that we will have a new connector Susan Pollard joining me. She is not just any connector but an M&S Connector! Welcome on board and good luck.

Thanks for reading and as always if there is anything I can support you with, please just let me know.

Kind regards


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