Student update: Asha Patel, Innovating Minds.

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By Asha Patel

Asha Patel is currently a student on our Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs start up course in the Midlands. This blog provides an insight into the first year of running a social enterprise and how the School for Social Entrepreneurs has helped along the way… 

“We offer a world where young people with emotional and mental health needs are supported to achieve their aspirations”.

I am on the SSE West Midlands course and before starting I had not started to generate an income, I just had an idea in mind. After sitting on the idea for 12 months, I finally took the leap of faith and I personally invested £7,500 to set up Innovating Minds CIC in 2016. This money was invested into marketing and branding material to bring the enterprise alive. It also helped me to have materials ready to exhibit at three conferences (of course all of this was done whilst I was working full time). On Monday 29th February, I took the leap of faith and handed in my resignation. Promise I didn’t plan to take the leap on a leap day- it just felt right.

Commencing ‘trading’ in September 2016 (contract established from a contact I made at one of the exhibitions) with my first SLA worth over £20,000. I commuted to London on a weekly basis to deliver my service to support students, teachers and parents wellbeing by creating a whole school approach to mental health. Within 10 months of trading, we have secured over £180,000 worth of funding and successfully become a specialist delivery partner for the Building Better Opportunities project in Coventry and Warwickshire, which is part funded by European Social Fund and Big Lottery Fund. We have three employees, and all of our initial contracts have been renewed and doubled so we can make a bigger impact. To date we have reached 937 individuals with our work in the UK.

In July 2017, we were sponsored to visit Bangladesh for a week with a team of three colleagues to raise awareness of mental health in educational settings. In total we reached over 2000 people, this included students, teachers and parents! We have also been asked to put a proposal together so we can establish our services in Bangladesh.

I believe the SSE programme has enabled me to develop confidence in myself and it has given me nuggets of information that I have been able to take away and implement. The peer support has been incredible, my peers have shared this learning journey with me and they have supported me when I have experienced knockbacks and celebrated the successes with me. The action learning has enabled me to take a step back and really unpick the challenges I am facing individually and as a social enterprise. I am very grateful for this amazing experience with SSE, the support from Rozzie and Charles has been amazing. I hope one day I can give back.

http://www.innovatingmindscic.com/

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The challenge of starting a social change movement

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By Tracey Ford, JAGS Foundation

Social Entrepreneur, Tracey FordSocial Enterprise JAGS

One year ago I sat nervously in the offices of School for Social Entrepreneurs – applying for a place on the first ‘Power Up’ course for social entrepreneurs.   I had no idea what was meant by ‘social change makers’, I just knew that I wanted to be part of this exciting new programme.

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Student spotlight: catching up with Florence

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In November last year some new SSE students contributed to the blog as part of a ‘Student Spotlight’ series. As their time with SSE is now coming to a close (where has the time gone?!) we thought it would be good to catch up and see how things have progressed, here Florence Norman, CEO of Sweet Cavanagh gives us an update.

Florence at her workshop.

The middle of the summer is always the quietest time; we are working with about 7 women at the moment. One of our graduated members Amy, is a wonderful example of someone who has thrown everything into her recovery. She’s now back in full time work and had this to say about her time at Sweet Cavanagh:

“Having the support and structure of Sweet Cavanagh enabled me to feel safe in the early stages of my recovery. It is so important to have a routine. Being creative is also key to my personal recovery. For many years, my illness saw me loose interest in doing anything enjoyable. Making jewellery reignited a creativity in me that I had suppressed. This social enterprise is so important – not just as a safe environment but also as the provider of free support (something that is few and far between). I am now back in full time work and miss my time there, but am extremely greatful for the support it provided. I feel my experience there is directly relevant to my current ability to work productively and do my job well. “

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Student Spotlight: Synchronised swimming (on dry land)

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Mermaid Gala, Image by Lizzie Coombes

Lucy Meredith is currently a student on Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme in Leeds. Lucy set up ‘Yorkshire Life Aquatic‘ to  promote health, well-being and positive body image. Yorkshire Life Aquatic uses creative performance to encourage people to use their local leisure facilities without feeling intimidated or embarrassed about wearing a swimming costume in public.

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Student Spotlight: Working with Cancer

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Meet Barbara, Founder of Working with Cancer

For almost 40 years I was convinced I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur.  Other people did that and most of them seemed to be a bit mad! My dad had been one of sorts and look where it had got him!  He ran a small leather goods business for many years and was constantly worrying about not earning enough money to support us. He had a nervous breakdown when I was a few months old and never really recovered.

So, after university, I pursued a pretty successful career in large or medium sized companies as a loyal employee, specialising in HR, which I enjoyed but wasn’t terribly fulfilling.  Why did I change my mind and set up my own business?  Well, I got cancer – in that sense, heaven help me, I did follow the family’s lead; my dad died of pancreatic cancer when I was 15 and my mum died of bowel cancer in 1993. My aunt Barbara (who I’d been named after) had died of Hodgkins’ Lymphoma at the age of 36.  Getting cancer didn’t surprise me – in a way I was expecting it – but for me it hasn’t been about endings; it has been about new beginnings…

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