Generation Generous is a about being a bit kinder, a bit more caring and captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset. It’s why I decided to do the On Purpose leadership programme this year, to explore social enterprise.
‘Everyone has transferable commodity-knowledge. Sharing your unique expertise and making introductions for someone creates a lasting legacy.’ Marsha Blackburn
One of the major benefits with On Purpose is the training we get every Friday and mentor and a coach. This is the most amount of personal development I’ve had my whole working career. Very generous. I’ve never had a mentor or coach, surely it’s mutually beneficial for employers (although it may cost them some money)?
The mentor I have is a good sounding board and check in. If you’re used to working in a larger team, it’s good to have this as a sanity check and to focus on the key areas and keep focussed.
I’ve also wanted to mentor for a while, to help someone starting out with my ‘transferable commodity knowledge’ and hopefully contacts that I’ve built up.
I applied to a Timebank project, called Engage, providing training to young people in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in London, yet across the water is Canary Wharf, one of the most affluent. The programme aims to help them develop new skills which will hopefully lead to employment something we all take for granted. The girl I’m mentoring is 19 and the primary carer for her mum, she’s setting up a community upcycling project, right up my street and wants to go to university to study communications.
Isn’t that what our experience and networks are for, to share generously?
If anyone has any tips for mentoring please do leave a comment and let me know!
The Times wrote of Dave: “many writers, having written a first best-seller, might see it as a nice way to start a career. He started a movement instead.”
Dave is a creative genius check out his bio here
and Open Upon A School
. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, watch this video. His talk is very charming and he gets a standing ovation which is so touching. It’s no surprise considering what he’s achieved and started though:
”open minds and open ears and boundless compassion….some of these kids just don’t plain know how good they are, how smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them and shine that light on them, one human interaction at a time.”
Hackney Pirates have taken inspiration from this, to carry on the movement here in East London.
‘The Hackney Pirates is an innovative education project, developing literacy and creativity in young people, by giving them one to one attention in an unconventional learning environment.’ They help 9-12 years old each day from 3.30-6.30 and rely on volunteers so they can provide one to one support.
On April 25th I was invited to the Young Pirate Apprentice t-shirt event, as I donated some money through their Buzzbnk campaign. Hackney Pirates collaborated with Enabling Enterprise for it, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to ‘equip young people with the skills, aspirations and experiences to succeed in life’. This really is a massive thing, they and Hackney Pirates are CHANGING lives.
The t-shirt project ran for a few months where the children worked on the designs for their t-shirt, market research, negotiating t-shirt deals, planning a sales strategy and organising the launch event.
Each week they were visited by an entrepreneur and the children presented their t-shirt designs at the launch event. I kid you not, I was very close to tears a few times at the event. You can clearly see the confidence the children have developed and you can see how it’s changing their lives, for good. They’re being taught creativity, entrepreneurship and are improving their literacy at the same time. Camilla and Catriona are such amazing people, giving these children faith in their abilities. I bet the kids feel like there’s now no limit to what they can do.
This is the t-shirt I’ve bought and you can buy one here if you’d like to help support them. They’re also looking for volunteers and you can sign up here.
On May 5th I went to West Ham with my good friend Sarah. Where is West Ham I hear you say? We arrived and met Alice from Spots of Time and about 10 other volunteers. We got taxis to the care home and when we arrived the room was quite full already with elderly people, care home workers and volunteers. It was bloody hot too and I’d worn a nice warm winter jumper.
To be honest I was really nervous. I was scared in case the elderly people didn’t want to talk to me. Nails Inc. had kindly donated some nail varnish and volunteers were painting nails. My friend Sarah had bought her mum’s dog, Pedro! What the hell was I going to do.
Then I remembered I’d bought some After Eights for them. I started walking around the room offering them. One gentleman was French speaking and I realised afterwards he couldn’t understand what I was saying. I also quickly learnt that you just need to start by asking their name and introducing yourself! Basics Emily.
The highlight of the day was communicating with a lady who couldn’t talk. She was hunched over in her chair alone. I was determined to not leave her out so asked if she wanted to see the dog. She winked. Pedro came over and behaved beautifully. He definitely knew the role he was playing that day. I asked if she wanted to feed Pedro and she winked again, with a third & forth wink for after eights.
It just shows that everyone deserves a little bit of time. Even one hour is precious and lifted the room. Each person has a ‘voice’ to be heard, sometimes you have to ‘listen’ that bit harder.
It would be so amazing if schools factored volunteering into the curriculum, so it became the cultural norm.
A few months ago I went to a Responsible Business event at the Design Centre in Islington. I met some great people and one of those was Theresa, who’s the CEO and Co-Founder of Buzzbnk, who’s an amazing lady.
From this event I checked out their site to see what it was all about. Essentially it’s a great way to help communities and projects which you may be interested in supporting. Buzzbnk is one of the first crowd funding platforms in the UK but they’re unique as they specifically support social enterprises, co-ops and charities. In February, they received a £50k investment from the Innovation in Giving Fund, managed by Nesta. The fund backs innovative ideas for increasing volunteering and charitable giving.
Through the Buzzbnk site I saw the Hackney Pirates venture and pledged some money – £100 as it’s something I’ve been looking to get involved in for years. I was invited to the Hackney Pirates t-shirt launch event and got to meet the kids. It’s such a good way to donate money, to something you feel passionate about.
It really does create a two-way process and as Buzzbnk describes ‘that allows them to feel invested in your project and for you to forge strong links with your community.’ It’s more than just giving, it’s co-venturing.
I’m now volunteering with Hackney Pirates and look forward to working with them in the future and helping as much as I can. A big thanks to Buzzbnk for ‘introducing’ me.
If you’ve been looking for a new way to do good you know where to go.
I often think I could be doing more with my time, something nice for someone else.
Big Pamper Day, run by Spots of Time, is this Saturday 5th May. It’s a great campaign to help us get there, as it’s often knowing where to start (without feeling silly or out-of-place).
They’re a social enterprise, aiming to make it easier for us to put our spare time to good use. Phew.
They’ve launched an exciting initiative called ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ to help elderly people connect with Londoners. Such a lovely idea and something I’ve wanted to do for ages.
If you want to get involved you can sign up here.
Ivo Gormley @ivoivo – Exercise for Good TedxHackney event April 14th
Ivo got a spontaneous round of applause several times throughout his talk. Exciting stuff.
In his talk he referenced the history of the treadmill and the wastage in energy of people going to the gym. He felt surely all this energy could be put to better use and wanted to channel it into social good.
He founded Good Gym in 2009, after winning first prize at a Social Innovation Camp in 2008 for his idea. Good Gym connects people who want to get fit with missions, involving running to community projects like clearing up community gardens. Or it pairs runners with isolated less-mobile people ‘coaches’, so you run to their house, deliver them something they need (i.e. a paper) & have a chat. Brilliant idea and helps make everyone happy.
The good gym aims to improve the lives of elderly people and Ivo wants to develop a new model for volunteering, by focusing on the positive experience of the volunteer. He seems to have a lot of support behind him. Organisers hope the Olympic Games will leave a more enduring legacy in East London and Ivo wants his enterprise to become the social norm for the young professionals moving into new housing around the Olympic Park. I’ll have to introduce him to my old client at Delancey.
If you want to get involved keep an eye out for what’s happening here. It’s worth looking at their website, as their business model is great, built on a lean process. They also have a very impressive advisory committee with different skill sets. Paulina Bozek is CEO and Co-Founder of Inensu and has been responsible for games for companies like Sony’s hit SingStar.
No doubt Good gym will be doing some exciting things and creating a social game through Inensu. Imagine if we got rewarded for real life kind actions and miles clocked and there was a league table for ‘goodness’….