Phoenix

Yesterday was one of the proudest days I have ever experienced as an entrepreneur and as a human being. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I boarded that train at Paddington with my business partner, but what happened next far exceeded my expectations. What happened made everything that has happened in the past year worthwhile. But let me start at the beginning…

The We Do Ideas team made its way to Cirencester, a small town in Gloucester, to work with some of their young people. It is a charming place, although it is thoroughly devoid of opportunity. We wanted to help this youth group to increase their aspirations for the future…but it was not going to be easy. Many of them as young as 12 were smoking cigarettes, had experience in youth offenders institutes or were drinking, because there was simply nothing for them to do where they lived. It was far away from my existence, with one girl living and working on a farm, getting up at 5 in the morning to help in the barn (I am not making this up). I guess for a second we all questioned whether we would be able to do anything to help.

The first day was a bit of washout. We just helped out while another organisation tried to get them to look into enterprise and give them an introduction. They did not seem that receptive, with many of them making more of the free tea and coffee rather than the workshop itself. We had to re-think. The whole night we spent re-developing our day, making our games bigger, better and more productive. And it worked. They seemed to take a lot more out of it and we developed good relationships with them – we got to know them and understood that this was getting through to them. We just didn’t realise how well.

Last week, they invited us to their festival as VIPs. We developed the idea with them, but they laughed it off thinking that it wouldn’t be possible. Then we got there and joined a crowd of 2,000 people…boy, were we in for a shock!? Less than a year ago, these teenagers bluntly declared that they had nothing and they didn’t care. And since then, we have been part of a journey seeing them scale the heights of their own potential. They had everything from a main stage to graffiti artists to free runners gracing a disused park that they had once abandoned because there was nothing to do. When my business partner and I looked around, we were truly lost for words. It made us feel immensely proud that we were a very small part of that journey.

But we can’t take any credit for Phoenix Festival. It was all down to them. Yet we saw the progression and the maturity of this small band of young people in a small town outside of our worlds come together and do something fantastic. And we felt nothing but pride. All of the problems and obstacles that we faced melted away when we realised this was just the tip of the iceberg. One of the young people won a National Volunteer of the Year Award and she continues to do brilliant things with a charity that she set up herself. There are plenty of other stories as well…

I am not going to bore you with my feelings or emotions. The facts and events speak for themselves. It was nothing short of magnificent and long may it continue. It is fitting that it should end like this.

http://www.phoenix-festival.co.uk/

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3 Comments

  1. Jenni 1st July 2013 at 16:04

    Sounds and look amazing, well done to everyone involved for fulling it off with spectacular style!

    1. hiran1 1st July 2013 at 17:00

      It was fantastic!

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