Sophie is a tenacious, outspoken and driven founder of Conscious Youth CIC. She is dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of others and this shines through her organisation and her daily work.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I am a graduate of Law, my career background has always been in operational management. I have recently completed training in becoming a Trauma-informed practitioner.
Conscious Youth was formed in 2016 to inspire and empower young people in Kirklees. We work in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, where opportunity and investment have been lacking.
We were acutely aware that cuts to public services would have a devastating effect on young people in the deprived communities of Kirklees. Therefore, as a response to this situation we developed Conscious Youth to mitigate against seeing a lost generation, that would have their futures curtailed by a lack of services.
Our ethos is based on an Assets-Based Community Development approach (ABCD). We adopt the philosophy that young people are born with the strengths, knowledge and skills that they need to succeed. However, too often in deprived communities, these strengths are unrecognised.
Our vision is to see empowered youth, who are enriching their communities through social, economic and civic participation. Our mission is to inspire, engage and create the space for young people to transform their communities.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I was volunteering with a group of young Black afro Caribbean young people aged 16 – 18 on a project for the Council with my business partner as part of her work placement. I was volunteering as I had lost my daughter full term as she had anencephaly and died at birth. I was on maternity and was told I needed to do something with my time. Hence the volunteering.
The group organised a Black history event that looked at the forgotten history, financial resilience, understanding who you are and mindset. After the event, the young people were empowered and wanted more. We spoke to the council and at this time there had been cuts to youth funding so they could not commit to another project.
I was at a crossroads and thought could we set up a youth organisation and fit the gap. My business partner thought I was crazy but was also at a crossroads so said yes.
Conscious Youth was then birthed.
How did you achieve awareness?
Social media and building relationships were key for us as an organisation. Maintaining strong relationships with powerful and influential people, putting ourselves out there and in the middle of conversations and local issues was really how we got ourselves noticed. I am quite outspoken and tenacious so I used this to benefit the business!
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We have networked, worked ridiculous hours and shown that grassroots youth work is needed. We have had to speak to a lot of businesses to gain their support and expertise.
What are the key successes?
The key successes are seeing young people thrive and their journey to success after being involved with us. Also taking our sessions and offering to the next level which we have already started to achieve and creating a youth hub where young people in our region can go for safety and also upskill and grow.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
The main challenges will always be funding as it can be for 1 to 2 years meaning that you are always writing bids and evaluating them
What are your plans now/for the future?
Our plans now are to open our first central youth hub for young people, to gain knowledge and skills but also to provide them with a safe space. We are also going to expand our therapeutic side by offering 1-2-1 therapy sessions for young people who have faced trauma.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Take the risk, everything in life is scary until you step into that fear. So embrace the fear and think of the bigger picture. You can achieve the wild cray dreams with hard work, consistency and the drive to make it happen.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Network at every opportunity
- Plan and always have a plan B and C just in case
- Be innovative, introduce new ideas, services or ways to do things
- Build long term relationships, these matter so much. Business/people by from people they know and like
- Be open-minded – What you may think will work might be wrong be able to understand that and take on board other suggestions or ideas.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- My mother
- JK Rowling
- Oprah Winfrey
- Michael Jordon
- Bruce Lee
They inspire me to always remember no matter what is thrown at me I never give up. Life is hard but you have to power through the struggle and you will reap the rewards.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“She remembered who she was and the game changed”
“it always seems impossible until it’s done “ – Nelson Mandela
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Facebook – Consciousyouthuk
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