Uncompromising commitment: UnLtd names four Pioneers - leaders catalysing social change

Cemal Ezel, John Bishop, Cherie White and Alex Smith are now working with UnLtd: advocating for a new movement of social entrepreneurs and, together, tackling some of the biggest social challenges of our time.

We're announcing our first four Pioneers: a dedicated and driven group of enterprising people who are determined to use their big ideas to change the world for the better. The UnLtd Pioneers programme recognises these four people as champions of social entrepreneurship and will help them to grow their ventures and deliver lasting, sustainable social impact over the coming years.

The UnLtd Pioneers all have something very special to offer and are true leaders of social change, and each has built a business that has a transformational impact. Through the programme each Pioneer will act as advocates for social entrepreneurship and help this business model go mainstream.

Recent achievements from individual UnLtd Pioneers include winning a place on the inaugural Obama Fellowship which is working with civic innovators around the world, brokering a major distribution deal with Sainsbury’s, supporting the Jo Cox loneliness commission and winning the Chivas Regal international Venture prize.

UnLtd has helped so many people with big ideas to improve their communities. They've been a constant in the development of The Cares Family over seven years

Alex Smith, The Cares Family

It is a vital time for the work of the UnLtd Pioneers. British society is divided, with too many people being left behind and unable to access the services, jobs or opportunities they need. We are working with the Pioneers to break down the barriers social entrepreneurs face in tackling these challenges; from finding routes to market, evidencing impact, finding talent and raising capital.

Each venture will receive specifically tailored support to help them scale their business and impact.

The insight from the work with the Pioneers will inform our future in supporting all social entrepreneurs looking to accelerate the pace of social change.

Who are the UnLtd Pioneers?

Founder of Change Please and an UnLtd Pioneer, Cemal Ezel

Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please

Since 2010, homelessness has doubled in the UK. Now, over 4,000 people sleep rough every night. By the end of the decade the number of UK coffee outlets is set to hit 21,000, creating over 100,000 jobs. Change Please uses coffee as a way out of homelessness; training homeless people to become baristas and provides a London-living wage job, housing, a bank account and extra support for people too.


John Bishop, founder of Change Please and a new UnLtd Pioneer

John Bishop & Graham Morgan, co-founders of Evolve

Evolve’s health mentors help children to succeed and achieve their potential. As policy makers start to understand the direct relationship between health and educational success, headteachers are demanding grassroots solutions that drive achievement whilst addressing the challenges that children face whilst growing up in the digital age. This is a movement that’s bigger than just education or public health: it’s about changing the way we support children by bringing together key stakeholders including parents, schools, local authorities, community groups and policy makers.


Cherie White, one of UnLtd’s Pioneers and the founder of Think for the Future

Cherie White, founder of Think for the Future

Think for the Future provides schools, teachers and disadvantaged communities with innovative solutions to remove barriers to their success, tackling pastoral and behavioural problems that are preventing participants from reaching their full educational potential.


Alex Smith founder of The Cares Family and an UnLtd Pioneer

Alex Smith, founder of The Cares Family

The Cares Family is a group of community networks of young professionals and older neighbours who socialise and support each other in London and Manchester. Loneliness has been shown to be as bad for people's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can bring on strokes, heart attacks and dementia. And one in ten GP appointments is made by an older person with no other condition than that they're lonely. 77% of North London Cares participants say their isolation has been reduced through this model.


Each UnLtd Pioneer has been selected because they are leading a venture with a proven business model that is already succeeding in creating deep impact and solving specific social problems.

Over the past four-years, UnLtd has been supporting high growth social ventures through its flagship accelerator the Big Venture Challenge, the new UnLtd Impact Fund and its innovative Thrive product. The UnLtd Pioneers will take this support further, creating a ripple effect of social impact through capturing the public’s imagination in remarkable stories of large-scale social change.

Alex Smith, founder of The Cares Family, said: “Improving your community comes tough and slow and - by definition - it can't be done by one person. It takes people embedded in their place, working together, listening, organising, bootstrapping, taking a punt and learning along the way. UnLtd has helped so many people with big ideas to improve their communities. They've been a constant in the development of The Cares Family over seven years. That's why I'm so thrilled to be one of UnLtd's Pioneers and to work with them to progress our vision of better connected communities in a time of rapid change.”

Mark Norbury, UnLtd CEO, said: “Today’s social challenges require brave and bold solutions. That’s why we’ve brought the UnLtd Pioneers together, because they are delivering some of the most enterprising answers to the complex social problems the UK faces. The Pioneers are already changing lives, creating jobs and boosting economic opportunity. The Pioneers have huge potential to transform our world for good, and UnLtd will support them to do so. We want to celebrate them and inspire other people - whether to start-up a social venture, buy from one, or support one. This is how we will take social entrepreneurship mainstream.”

Through the Pioneers work, our expert team will help selected ventures overcome some of their biggest barriers - from raising capital to evidencing impact, from finding talent to developing new routes to market. The UnLtd Pioneers work is a structured way for the organisation to make the most of its expertise and connections to support high-performing ventures to reach their full potential.

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Author Info

Paul Drury-BradeyMedia & Campaigns Manager

I trained as a journalist, and spent the first part of my career working for local newspapers in the north of England. I moved to London in 2007 to start working in culture communications. This role led to diverse project for the British Council, and developing creative social impact campaigns for mainstream consumer brands. I joined UnLtd in the summer of 2016. I’m a real ideas person; and love exploring new ways of working at the intersection of creativity, entrepreneurship and social change.

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