Last week I took to the stage at the annual Kent 2020 Vision Live event, giving a presentation to a packed audience on Becoming a Social Business. I had the pleasure of listening to an earlier speaker, Edward Perry, co-founder of Cook, the independent company hand preparing food at kitchens in Kent for your freezer. It was inspiring to learn about what has driven their phenomenal rise to success. Edward referred to the importance of building a positive, supportive culture where staff want to work and grow, as well as encouraging CSR and giving back to the community.
Although ambitious for success with my own PR and social media business Zoodikers, I share this passion and desire to think beyond the pound signs and I intend to try and leave a legacy and make a difference, however small. Our initiative, Project STEP, gets started next month. More on that in a moment; first, a little bit of context…
Growing up, very happily I must add, on the 11th floor of a block of council flats in Tottenham, north London, and having moved to leafy Tunbridge Wells just 8 years ago, I know from first hand experience the desire and drive bound into the sometimes misrepresented concept of social mobility. I respect people from humble beginnings who have succeeded and opened up, for themselves and their families, a new and exciting world of opportunities. But not everyone shares the same levels of energy and foresight to make that a reality; not everyone benefits from the inspirational teachers that I met in my later school years; not everyone has the same support from dedicated, loving parents. I was one of the lucky ones and now it’s ‘pay back’ time.
Starting in June, I’ll be coaching a group of 16-19 year olds on how to exploit social media to get a job, work experience, or even to be inspired to set up their own businesses. The students are from Haringey Sixth Form Centre in White Hart Lane, home to my favourite football team Spurs, who I’ve been supporting from the tender age of 5 (a by-product of being an only child of a football-mad Dad Stan.)
STEP stands for Social Training and Enterprise programme. I’ve already had interest from the local paper, the Haringey Independent, who’ll be sending a photographer along to our first session on June 11th. I’m also in talks with the local MP David Lammy, and the inspirational founders of The Banc restaurant in Tottenham’s West Green Road. The hope is that they, along with Tottenham Hotspur, can help me to widen the scope of the project, offering these exciting venues for free for us to host the later training sessions, and helping to draw in other stimulating speakers who can offer advice, as well as businesses who can provide job opportunities.
With that in mind, I aim to open this out to the facilities management and construction sectors, which I’m heavily involved with at Zoodikers. Given the exciting regeneraton plans for the Spurs stadium and the region at large, there is an obvious synergy. So I’m happy to involve some of my contacts from this wider business world too.
If you would like to get involved, please drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. Next month we’ll share some pictures and video clips of the project getting underway. Thank you!