Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend an Accelerate event at the Ernst and Young offices in Leeds hosted by the EY Foundation. I was invited to come along with the Prince's Trust who have supported me in starting BearHugs.
Accelerate is EY Foundation's programme for social entrepreneurs with a focus on supporting young people in employment, training or enterprise.
At the event, Dawn O'Keefe, Managing Director of SHINE, Harehills CIC, spoke about how she converted a derelict, grade-II listed, 40,000 sq-ft building in the heart of one of the UK's most socially and economically challenging communities into what is now known as SHINE. SHINE recruits, hires and supports ex-offenders, provides a community garden, makes free gallery space available to emerging and established artists, connects emerging entrepreneurs to growth opportunities and partners with local schools and the police to create opportunities for young people.
It was great to hear Dawn talk about how she has been able to actively support the local community around SHINE and create opportunities for groups of disadvantaged people. I came away incredibly inspired and full of ideas about how I could use BearHugs to support others in the future.