What does your social enterprise do?
Proud2Be is a social enterprise that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, intersex &/0r asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) people, in Devon & beyond. We exist to ensure that LGBTQIA+ people everywhere know, that no matter what they have been told, they too can be Proud2Be!
Why are you passionate about this cause?
Myself and my identical twin brother Jon are both proud gay men. We grew up in a rural village knowing that not only were we different from our peers, but that our ‘difference’ to many was an unacceptable part of who we are. These experiences were detrimental to our sense of well-being.
Together, we founded Proud2Be in June 2011 and have spent the last few years meeting many LGBTQ+ people who have had or are having similar experiences to the ones we had growing up, living in a world where seemingly the loudest voices tell you that who you are is just not good enough.
What was your biggest challenge in starting your social enterprise?
When we began we were full of self-doubt but Proud2Be has provided us with countless opportunities to develop both professionally and personally. There have been challenging times but these times have helped to build our confidence and resilience which has been important as we work to ensure that Proud2Be remains true to its values and mission.
How has the School for Social Entrepreneurs supported you?
Through the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme I was able to network and connect with other social entrepreneurs. The support that I was able to receive and offer to people who were experiencing similar challenges, fears and had the same driving passion was a lifeline and still is as I am still in contact with many of my SSE Cornwall peers and count them as my friends. With the support of tutors, mentors and peers, I developed skills and confidence that has not only benefited Proud2Be, but me as a person.
What are your plans for the future?
We would like to employ two full time workers and a part time volunteer coordinator. We would like to open the first Proud2Be Hub, where we will offer drop-ins, 1:1 mentoring, information, signposting and events.
What would your advice be to a budding social entrepreneur?
Trust your instincts and ask for support. Communicate your values and vision clearly and simply and always ensure that everything you do and everyone involved is in line and signs up to those values and vision. Learn to say no when you need to. Take calculated risks. Celebrate all your achievements and learn from the challenges. And finally (but most importantly) be yourself!