Tower Hamlets SEEN is aimed at unleashing the talents of young social entrepreneurs in the borough. The programme has given 74 young people cash and professional support to develop their idea to solve a social issue that will benefit the London borough of Tower Hamlets and wider society.
We finished recruiting for social entrepreneurs in February 2016 and are currently working with the cohort to help them develop. Here are some of the social entrepreneurs beginning to making a positive, sustainable difference to their community.
"I feel like becoming a social entrepreneur has had a domino effect of positivity," explained Cheryl Walker, founder of Purple Moon Drama, "The best part has been seeing the social change I've helped to create; seeing how one idea can mean so much to people."
Purple Moon Drama provides affordable performance training for young people. "We had one person who was dyslexic and didn't really speak, but had a vivid imagination. Through tapping into his skillset he's now begun to speak and is doing really well."
"I used to be ashamed of taking money, but I've learnt that you can make money and do good," said Cheryl, "Otherwise you're living on the breadline, just trying to keep your head above the water."
"Seeing something you've created grow into something big, seeing the impact on the community, is the best part," said Nahimul Islam , founder of Wapping Youth FC - a football club run by and for young people.
The club aims to use sport to engage and empower young people, and give them a chance to socialise and feed back to their peers. So far they've worked with 116 people, many of whom are young people not employed, in education or training - some of them volunteering as coaches with the aim of giving them qualifications and creating future leaders.
"We had one young person struggle with anger management and hurled abuse at one of the coaches. Instead of kicking him out we had a one-to-one and mentored him to help him understand he'd done wrong," said Nahimul, "He apologised and is back in the team - we want to help people not exclude them."
"It's good to have someone guide you, rather than go alone," said Leanne Lashley who started Miswits Comedy Club. The comedy club puts on open mic nights for young LGBT people to do spoken word performances and stand up comedians, as well as providing mentoring for LGBT people, women and ethnic minorities.
She's faced some challenges in getting to the stage where she can run the night regularly. "Finding a venue that is accessible, in the right community and affordable is tough," she explained, "But also as an entrepreneur, at an early stage, a big challenge is having to work to have money to fund what you're doing."
''Getting an Award has been really humbling. It's gratifying to know that someone else also believes my vision can be achieved,' she said, 'It's nice having milestones and to see me hit them.'
Sumayya Begum runs Virago Kickboxing which gives young women the chance to learn kickboxing in an inclusive and empowering environment. "There have been quite a few challenges. It's hard to deal with the magnitude of it all, to prioritise. Being under 18 is difficult, it's a struggle to get a business bank account," she said, "But it's worth it when you see people coming back each week."
"It's really good when you see the same faces. It makes you think you're doing something right, especially when you help them achieve," she explained, "We had one person who came regularly who was eager but not very capable, I paired with them to support them. They kept trying and got their white belt."
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