SSE Student Bernadette Whelan conquers the Plinth!

If you happened to be at Trafalgar Square Monday morning, you undoubtedly caught the fabulous performance by SSE Liverpool student Bernadette Whelan on the Plinth. Bernadette was one of over 32,000 applicants chosen to be part of Antony Gormley's astonishing living
that throughout the summer has occupied the empty Fourth
Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. A space normally reserved for
statues of Kings and Generals, participants become an image of themselves,
and a representation of the whole of humanity.B from afar

To see Bernadette's performance in its entirety, go to the archived recording on the One and Other website.

Bernadette, a singer, teaches performing arts in schools in the
and Merseyside regions as part of her business "Crescendo". She is developing this business as a student of the School
for Social Entrepreneurs in Blackburne House Liverpool, and will graduate in a few weeks with the 2008-09 cohort.

Picture 014

She is in the
process of working as a singing therapist with Alzheimers patients and
stroke survivors to enhance language and memory recall and hoping to
conduct clinical research as how this actually works and its benefits
for the NHS in terms of the health and wellbeing of patients.

As part
of this mission, she trains the children in the schools to act as mini
therapists with her
to encourage inter-generational and community contacts.

Everyone at SSE thoroughly enjoyed your performance today and we are really proud of you! Thank you Bernadette!

Share Button

Revamped Social Enterprise Ambassadors Website!

Final logo_full colour Delighted to see the launch of the re-designed Social Enterprise Ambassadors site, designed by the wonderful team over at Webstars LTD. As part of a rebrand and renewal of the ambassadors programme, SEC and SSE have worked closely together to create a new web portal for the OTS-funded initiative, now in its third year. It's always fun being involved in something like this from 'soup to nuts' as it were…from writing the brief onwards. Kudos to Pauline (and Vicky) at SEC for sorting out the photos and much of the content more recently.

The redesigned site features a lot of interactive content, including photos, videos and some extensive bios of the ambassadors. For instance, check out long-time SSE friend + expert witness Craig Dearden-Phillips, SSE Fellows Saeeda Ahmed and Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, and Tim Campbell, who came to SSE earlier this year for a fellowship session on Money and remains a close friend to us here in Bethnal Green.

Some other interesting features that might be worth checking out:
– Looking for an ambassador near you? Check out the Ambassador Locations
– The ambassadors now focus more closely on specific audiences, Young People, Business & Finance, Public Services
– Want the inside scoop? The ambassadors are avid bloggers and tweet like singing birds

Really great to see this site go up and to have worked closely with the ambassadors (thanks to Sophi, Peter, Julie, et al), who have been very helpful and supportive through this process and quick turnaround. Am looking forward to the programme making a large impact on the different target groups for the various campaigns in the coming year

Share Button

WeCreate, YouApplaud

Recently checked in with one of our fellows in Birmingham, Richard Leighton, who runs We Create*, a Social Enterprise that offers young individuals the opportunity to gain access to qualifications and commercial experience in Fashion Design.


We Create* runs The Oasis, an alternative fashion shop in Birmingham that retails fashion labels designed by local young designers – some of these products are also available online. In addition, the shop also retails designs developed by participants on We Create*'s pilot courses.    

Chuffed to see that Richard is doing so well. In the coming time he's looking to expand on the many alternatives We Create* offer, like a free fashion-based business help and support service, a 12-week fashion design and its commercial development course, and projects in partnership with organisations like the Youth
Offending Service (YOS), HMS Prison Service, Social Enterprises, and so on.

We're excited about the many things We Create* has started up and expect to hear more from Richard in the coming months.

Share Button

Go for it!

During a recent search in our fellowship database, I came across the profile of our founder, Michael Young, the Lord of Dartington. In his profile we have included a quote from one of his speeches given at SSE around the turn of the millennium, which I think is worth sharing. In a dire financial environment like today, this might be food for thought.  

Michael Young:

There is a great 'wall' coming up in a few weeks time
and only a few messages will get over the wall, or a few whispers through the
chinks. So, looked at in this way, my function here is to whisper a few things
to you, from one century to another. You are going to spend a longer time in
the next century than I am, but I think no-one here has spent as much time in
this century as I have.

So, I had to decide, overnight, what I was going to say to you, as an old
man of the twentieth century, to you people of the twenty first century. And I
think what I would say is 'Go for it.'

It is perhaps a metaphor of a ship leaving the dock. It's the ship of the
next century and there I am on the dockside, waving a message, shouting out 'Go
for it! Don't be put off! Be persistent, persistent, persistent!'

Anyway, that is my message to you of the next century, from me in this
century. And I don't think the next century will be any different. The
resistance to new ideas will be much the same – and the means to overcoming it
will be the same. You will need all the guile you can muster and all the
persistence. Don't dismiss all your good ideas if they don't seem good ideas to
your friends and other people. Believe in yourself. Go for it. That's what I'm
shouting from the dockside.

Thor Steinhovden currently interns with the School for Social
Entrepreneurs in Bethnal Green, London. He recently finished a BA in
Political Science and History at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. This
fall he will embark on a MSc in Comparative Politics (Nationalism and
Ethnicity) at the London School of Economics.


Share Button

How do interns fit into the social enterprise movement?

In the welfare-state utopia that is Scandinavia, there is a saying that goes, "give the youngsters a computer before football gets to them," alluding to the ever-dominant role the sport plays in Scandinavian society. In the world of social enterprise, perhaps it is time we adopt a similar approach: "give young people a purposeful career before the corporates get to them." Step one? Adopt an intern.

As a twenty-year old college student I was lost in what to do with my life. Like many of my peers I was young, idealistic beyond belief and equipped with a hard work-ethic. However, what I lacked were hard skills, proper levels of pragmatism, and a realistic view on how to 'change the world'. Then I got the opportunity to intern for a month with a social entrepreneurship organisation, which took me in, nurtured my confidence and taught me about how social enterprise practitioners apply idealism. A year and a half later this experience has put me on track for a career that mixes purpose with professionalism, work with an outside life, and idealism with pragmatism. While there are many similar stories out there, there is still a large gap between the many young interns who stand ready to join small social enterprises, and those who actually gain the opportunity to work. Why? Here are a few hypothetical claims…

– Small social enterprises or NGOs often lack the funding to bring in an intern, even for part-time. As far as I know, outside funding alternatives specifically aimed at bringing in interns are few and far between.

– Prospective interns often have no idea where to begin their job search. Finding a small social enterprise is hard enough, finding one that can afford them and is willing to go through the process of hiring an intern is virtually impossible.

– Small social enterprises are not proactive enough in searching for interns. Many organisations want trained employees, and fail to see value of fresh perspectives and the hard work-ethic interns often bring to the table.

– Prospective interns prefer big organisations or well-known employers. In looking an internship with a name-brand business, they often do not see that with a small NGO they will receive greater responsibility, more advanced tasks, and ultimately, greater skills.

– Students are often limited for time in that they can only do internships that last for one to four months. A lot of organisations prefer longer contracts to make it a more useful learning experience for intern, but also because it gives the intern a greater opportunity to make a positive impact on the NGO. 

Surely other factors play a role as well, but these stand out to me as particularly limiting.

Why is it important to defy these factors and make a conscious effort to recruit more interns? As is widely accepted, not everyone could, or should, be a social entrepreneur. However, there are plenty of young men and women who still want to partake in social enterprise, and who want to make a positive impact on their society. In this sense, second-tier organisations might be a perfect fit. NGOs often prioritize the day-to-day tasks over long-term projects that involve research, updating of databases, technological innovation – they just fall by the waste side. Ironically these features are essential in moving the sector forward, through strong networks, new initiatives, a deeper understanding of complex issues, and organisational growth.

If you work for a small social enterprise and you are looking for an intern, what do you do? SSE was lucky enough to be approached by an American college, looking to set up a sustainable internship relationship. This coming January, SSE will welcome its third intern from St. Olaf College. Looking for such a partner might be a good first step – loads of schools are filled with competent young men and women, ready to enter the sector and contribute to its growth and development. While it might be time-consuming and not directly beneficial for your organisation to adopt an intern, it might be essential for the social enterprise movement. Youth is an essential ingredient to a successful sector in the future.    


Share Button