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In Your Network - Chris James

Chris James is the Director and Co-founder of Inspired Youth, a social enterprise which works with young people.  He has also taken part in the last year in Social Enterprise Spotlight, a case study of 8 social enterprises involved in the Social Entrepreneurs Network.  He talks of why he has got involved:

1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why ?
I am Director and Co-founder of an award winning non-profit social enterprise called Inspired Youthbased in the North of England. We use arts and media as a tool to engage, inspire and empower people. Our philosophy is all about empowerment and raising aspirations; placing people at the very heart of driving creative solutions to the social problems they face. We pride ourselves on providing the right environment for professional partnerships to flourish between artists and people who are considered by some as hard-to-reach.

2) What did you join the Fellowship for?
I was recommended by Paul Vittles, Chair of RSA Australia and New Zealand who is familiar with my work. I joined because I was asked and to be honest, looking at the breadth of other talented and experienced Fellows, I felt very honoured.

3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to Fellowship/Society?
Inspired Youth were lucky enough to be invited to join the Spotlight project started by the Social Entrepreneurs networkand it's through this project that I have contributed the most. I firmly believe that as a Fellow, you get out what you put in and the Spotlight project has provided me with an accelerated learning curve which I believe has not only been the key to my organisation's survival, but also provided it with the principles for growth. You can read our reflections on theSocial Enterprise Spotlight journey.

To say the experience has been priceless is an understatement. Look out for the new intake in 2012, roll your sleeves up and if you get a fraction of what I have got out of it, you will be made up. Get stuck into the RSA Social Enterprise Network and the Friday Breakfast Socials, you can meet some amazing people at these events. [Editor's note - visit theFellowship blog to see Chris's thoughts at a recent social enterprise event]. 

4) What would you change in society given the chance?
I’d give a generation of young people 50% more self-belief and 50% less fear. Hopefully this would help break the cycle of crushed aspirations, wasted opportunities and wasted lives.

5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
Inspired Youth operates primarily in the 3rd sector, working with charities and voluntary and community organisations. We have been hit really hard in the last 18 months by the effects of cuts to the sector. However, we have continued to raise the bar and recently heard that Arts Council England have agreed to invest in our vision for a hugely ambitious arts campaign called 'Chance'.

6) What did you learn last week?
I learnt loads! I spent most of last week working alongside members of our Youth Board who we call the Bright Sparks. They are a group of 15 young people selected from a range of campaign projects we have delivered over the last 5 years. The role of this group is not only to guide and shape our project aspirations but to keep our project delivery fresh and relevant whilst generally keeping us on our toes! 

7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
As a Fellow I have sought out positive influences and role models and I have met so many incredible people. I now attend RSA events and meet people with the expectation of being amazed! There are far too many people to name here. For those who have given me the time, you know who you are!

8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows.
If you are interested in the social issues which affect young people then please follow our Chance campaign in the coming months on Twitter (#iychance) and watch it grow into a national campaign! If you'd like to get involved then visitour website.

Chris James

Chris James



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