Posted by editor 27/02/2014 0 Comment 3913 views

UnLtd picFigen Gunes talks to UnLtd, who have inspired thousands of social entrepreneurs over the years

Social entrepreneurs UnLtd foundation have organised their first “Dream Act Inspire” event of 2014, to launch their inaugural Living It Festival.

The festival, to be held in London’s Google Campus on May 16 and 17, will celebrate, promote and showcase the work of young social entrepreneurs, including a Lived It awards competition, open for nominations March 20 until April 28. Five national events will be lined up at the Google Campus before the main festival in May.

“UnLtd supports 1,000 entrepreneurs each year and we started this foundation ten years ago,” said Josie Emberton of Head of Live UnLtd. “The youngest entrepreneur we funded was 11 years old. So far, £13m has been spent on social businesses by UnLtd.”

Award-winning social entrepreneurs spoke at the festival’s launch, to inspire a new generation of social minds. Ben Atkinson-Willes, founder of Active Minds, was one of them. When he was 10, his grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. He started doing jigsaws with his grandfather and noticed the positive mental impact the jigsaws were having.

“I very quickly found that there was a lack of suitable activities available for people and carers living with dementia,” said Atkinson-Willes. “This meant families and carers would usually resort to using children’s toys to provide stimulation to those they cared for.”

As part of his product design degree at King’s College London, he was given a task to improve people’s lives in long-term healthcare by using his design skills. He created children’s jigsaws into an adult format, with images to invoke memories. His project was picked up by Kingston University  and was first tested in care homes in Surrey. They now have 70 different products to serve the approximately 800,000 people currently living in the  UK with dementia.

Another inspirational social enterprise, Beyond the Classroom, was set up by Amma Mensah to teach sexual health, presentation skills and confidence building – areas which she says are not being taught in classrooms. Mensah aims to teach youngsters that they can have sex later than 16, and also to discuss what to expect from a partner. She says that these subjects were not addressed when she was 16, studying at a college.

After seeing a pile of 4,000 wellies at Glastonbury Festival to be chucked away, Reboot founder Steffan Lemke-Elms “got angry”. He said: “If I am angry, it’s not good. I brought them home to my parents’ backyard. I started sending clogs to Kenya . And from the remaining parts of wellies, I produce notepad covers, beer holders and bracelets.

“I asked what they need most in Kenya,” he added. “Girls stay in their houses when they have their menstruation period, and miss school. They said sanitary pads were much needed. I set up a self-sustaining chicken farm to provide pads for 200 girls. Fifty pence from each product I sell in the  UK  goes to support the chicken farm.” During this year’s festival season, Lemke-Elms will also be collecting broken tents to produce long-life shopping bags.

MyBnk was also set up by funds available from UnLtd, to develop and deliver financial and enterprise education for 11- to 25-year-olds in schools and youth organisations. The founder of the social enterprise, Lily Lapenna, told a story about a young boy called Dante,the youngest banker in her network, who opened a bank for his peers at school, who deposit their small change to start saving.

Drawing attention to the financial difficulties many people face, Lapenna said that 280 people go bankrupt every day in the  UK  – whilst many youngsters think ISA is an energy drink or an iPad application. MyBnk has so far worked with 75,000 young people and 400 different youth organisations, teaching entrepreneurial skills and how to control money.

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