What does your social enterprise do?
Aspiration Creation Elevation CIC gives disadvantaged young people the chance to creatively express themselves and develop personally through engagement in arts activities, role-model guidance and inspirational experiences. We give young people fun, positive, and empowering outlets that help build skills, confidence and aspirations. We aim to see negativity overturned through art.
Why are you passionate about this cause?
I was a child that grew up in disadvantaged circumstances but was raised with happiness, love and ideals of equality. As a youth, the influence of peers from similar, but less positive, backgrounds and the lack of role models led to me going off track and being involved with things out of character. It took these negative scenarios for me to see that people are born into cyclical settings through no fault of their own. I wanted to make a change to people’s lives, breaking these cycles, and through creating art (music in particular). I felt I had found a way to do this.
I believe that self-expression through creativity unlocks the mind-set needed to become a person of receptivity and positive action.
What motivated you to start ACE?
For a long time I’ve felt a lack of the right educational and social investment in disadvantaged young people will have damaging effects on communities, societies, nations and even the world. I have a strong desire to see that young people, and all people, are educated on the realities of life and how they can positively affect it.
The economic and social changes of recent times have affected the developmental input to deprived and disadvantaged people and communities, which, I feel, will ultimately mean further breakdown in societies. This was the catalyst to starting Aspiration Creation Elevation and taking the first steps towards a brighter future.
How does your social enterprise sustain itself financially?
Aspiration Creation Elevation generates income via three streams: commissioning, grants and trading.
We partner with other oganisations and institutes that commission us to provide our service to individuals or groups we mutually seek to benefit. We also seek grant funding to meet the needs identified by our beneficiaries and develop the services we provide as part of our foundation. Lastly, we offer commercial music services to the public, with the profits being re-invested into our community services and the running of the company.
How has the School for Social Entrepreneurs supported you?
The SSE programme has given me the tools, insight & confidence to further believe in myself & the change my organisation is capable of achieving.
It’s been great being around inspirational, like-minded people. I get real joy from being around my peers as there is a strong feeling of ‘being in this together’ which makes us feel united and ready to push our businesses further.
The mentoring support, networking, action learning, witness sessions, friendship, investment and positivity all give you the feeling that you’re doing something important, special and successful.
What are your plans for the future?
Aspiration Creation Elevation have high ambitions and a real focus. En-route to influencing the world (seriously), we would like to first prove our methodology through our work in St. Pauls Bristol, and then use this learning to impact the delivery of other youth service providers in the city. Ultimately, we don’t wish to be big, just influential.
Although we have high ambitions, we also have realistic ideals and we know deep rooted change will take time. Things seem to be pretty much on track at the moment so success in a year’s time would be to have produced further evidence of the success of our work and to have made new connection/partnerships within our sector.
If you’ve been inspired by Darren’s story take a look at our courses and see how we can help make your idea a reality.