Our young are ‘Abandoning Ambitions’ – could corporate partners help earlier on?

Ariel shot canary wharfThe Prince’s Trust have just released some alarming new research ‘Abandoned Ambitions’, supported by HSBC, which shows that 1 in 3 young people leaving school with poor grades believe they will “end up on benefits” and 1 in 5 young people claim they have “abandoned their ambitions” due to their poor qualifications.

They’re twice as likely as their peers to say that they “struggled to concentrate on schoolwork due to family problems” and that their “homelife was so stressful that they struggled to focus” . They are also significantly less likely to have had access to a computer, the internet or a quiet place to do their schoolwork at home.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, believes it’s more important than ever to invest in ‘vocational support and training for young people who are not academically successful’ and that government, employers and charities ‘must work together to get them into jobs’. Without this, thousands will struggle to compete, leaving them hopeless and jobless which causes a huge impact on the economy.

I’m doing a mentoring programme with Timebank at the moment and during our training session we met the Major of Tower Hamlets (who was about 16 as he was a young ambassador). Having a quiet place to do schoolwork or study was something that cropped up then too. Also the glaring disparity of the wealth in Canary Wharf versus some of the poorest areas in Tower Hamlets.

It made me think, why don’t corporate companies open up parts of their offices to school children struggling, in the evenings or weekends to do their school work or study. Surely this is paramount in PREVENTING the issue in the first place, rather than trying to help people to find jobs and build confidence AFTER they’ve got low grades.

A lot of effort has to go into un-doing damage to self confidence so why not help make things more accessible before it gets to that stage. Corporate partners surely have a role to play in society and giving something back. Are there programmes focusing on opening up their offices to these kids to study?

The Clothes Club – raising money for social enterprises

TheClothesClub_black The Clothes Club, a new garment swapping community, has been launched with a goal of raising £5,000 for local social enterprises, at events held by the group.

I came up with the idea a year-ago and have been working since then to get the right team in place. Lucy Dunleavy and Carmen Ortiz Guillen, two East London women with a passion for social enterprise, will be helping with the operation.

A Facebook page is now live and the blog will be ready in April ahead of the first event. What’s the insight behind The Clothes Club? Often there are items in our wardrobe we still like but just don’t wear anymore or perhaps a gift that’s perfectly fine but not your taste. With this in mind we’re forming a community of clothes swappers for good causes.

The money raised at each event will go to a different social enterprise, a sector that’s close to our hearts. We’ll be supporting Hackney Pirates with the event in April, who help 9-12 year olds.

Hopefully The Clothes Club will be a viable alternative to ebay, gumtree and car boot sales. It works this way: You pay £10 to bring 3 items (decent items rather than tat). You receive tokens and can swap them of other items. If there’s something extra you want you can always buy extra tokens. The money raised goes to a good cause and you go home with three new things and potentially some new friends. Sorry boys but it’s a girl only thing for now.

If you’d like to join the community you can here and we look forward to seeing you at the events.

GOOD – pilot campus Ambassadors programme

Good on campus

If you haven’t heard of Good, check them out. They’re a brilliant global community of ‘people who give a damn’.

They’re looking for college students to form Good ‘super members’ – who all are united by their desire to change the world.

These GOOD super-members will lead the charge in expanding the GOOD global community. They’ll organise student innovators to collaborate and collectively drive change.

I asked Good if they’re offering any incentives to people ‘Our incentives are mostly based around professional development. We feel this is a great opportunity for students to gain leadership skills and to have a hand in shaping a program.’ Hannah Wasserman

Hannah’s informed me they were originally looking for US students only, but they’ve received lots of interest outside the US, so they’re currently considering expanding the scheme. What a great way to build the GOOD community and mobilise the masses. Great outreach strategy, for content creation too (and very cost effective).


Very glad to have recently stumbled across Candy Chang. What an inspirational artist. Her work is well worth looking at here.

Candy observed that today we have more tools to reach out across the world, so why is it hard to reach out to our local neighbourhoods. In her MA and work she explores how we can ‘better design our public spaces to share information, self-organise, and become effective agents in our communities’. Love it!

Interest in Candy was heightened from working on the launch of East Village last year, for a property developer. Their aim is to help build and nurture a neighbourhood from 2013. It will be interesting to see how far they push this and actually go about shaping a community, as the techniques used by Sophie Ramsbotham & Alex Furunes could come in handy. They’re students (from the Architectural Association School of Architecture) running a regular stall on Berwick Street market. I popped to see them on the stall, after hearing about their work. They’ve been collecting drawings, comments from local traders and doing video interviews.

Their project is called Positive Dialogues and they hope to give a voice to locals’ concerns, so the ‘planned redevelopment of Berwick street market, doesn’t just go to the highest bidder but addresses the needs of the community.’ Why can’t public space be better designed so that it’s not necessarily allocated to the highest bidder but also reflects and facilitates needs of a community?

Sophie and Alex are doing a great job in helping to make this happen, along with people like Candy. One project I particularly like, is where she took an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans and turned it into a giant chalkboard. Residents could write on the wall and detail what was important to them – ‘Before I die’ is definitely worth checking out here. 

‘The wall became a space where we could learn the hopes and dreams of the people around us. Before I Die transformed a neglected space into a constructive one to help improve our neighborhood and our personal well-being.’

Another project ‘Looking for Love Again’ cleverly extracts themes, as they appear from people’s memories, which can be used as a public focus group, for influencing ideas and what then happens to the building.


Learning about social influencers like this, led me to attending a Responsible Business event in March, where I had the pleasure of meeting Think Public. They’re a social design agency and do some truly great work, through collaboration and the exchange of ideas:

‘The people who use and deliver the services, have the experience and ideas to make them better. After all who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the service better than the people who use’.

It’s good to see that the art of collaboration, really consulting and involving people, brings about such great things.