Trevor Elliott MBE is no ordinary entrepreneur; as a 30-year-old foster parent, he’s spent the last five years of his life entirely dedicated to the wellbeing of vulnerable children. Starting this journey at an unusually young age, defying stereotypes and making an incredible difference to the lives of at-risk young people, Trevor knew his life had a purpose: to help vulnerable children and improve Britain’s foster care system. Now, as the Managing Director of Kennedy Elliott, an organisation that provides care and accommodation to young people between the ages of 11 and 25 who’ve faced extreme hardship, and a foster parent himself, Trevor is doing just that.
Trevor Elliott, originally from London, grew up in an area within which crime was rife. As a teenager, he subsequently saw his life going in one of two directions: that of crime and an alternative path to success, should be brave enough to think outside of the box and be a driver of change. Discussing this crossroads, Trevor says: ‘I saw other young people around me becoming emersed in gangs and crime and I could have very easily followed suit. Fortunately, however, I found an invaluable outlet for my emotions which I truly feel saved my life – football. The sport gave be something to focus on and, little did I know, would change my life completely.
I eventually found myself coaching young children and suddenly I was passionate about football for an entirely different reason; I loved sharing its benefits with children who were in need of support and during each session, I saw the progress I was making with kids who were struggling with negative home environments. Unfortunately, when they went home, I felt this progress was wiped clean… I decided I wanted to do more, helping these children in a more hands-on, permanent way. This led me to fostering and, as they say, the rest is history.’
Trevor approached several local authorities in an effort to begin fostering. Sadly, this wasn’t the overnight process Trevor thought it would be… there continues to be an outdated stereotype which surrounds foster parents; people commonly believe that all foster carers are older, parents themselves and ultimately boast a traditional nuclear family dynamic. As a young, single man, Trevor most definitely defied this stereotype and broke free from the presumed foster parent mould. Thankfully, the Camden local authority finally recognised Trevor’s ability to help young people and he became a registered foster carer. Suddenly, Trevor was welcoming three at-risk teen boys into his home – with that, he was a responsible parent, caring for children with unique needs and histories.
Over the course of the past 5 years, Trevor’s efforts to enhance Britain’s foster care system have expanded. He’s now the Managing Director of Kennedy Elliott, an organisation committed to caring for and supporting at-risk young people. Meanwhile, Trevor continues to fulfil his ongoing role as a foster parent. Kennedy Elliott was created with one very simple mission – in Trevor’s words, ‘to offer a home away from home for children, using my ethos and tailored support services to reach even more young people in need’. The organisation is comprised of three homes. Firstly, Ladywell Children’s Home is a residential home for people between the ages of 11 and 17 who have experienced extreme disadvantages and/or trauma of some kind; these children have a range of complex needs, including mental health and behavioural difficulties. Secondly, Voltaire provides semi-independent living facilities for 16-18-year-olds, helping them to transition from care to independent living. This home is based in London and accommodates five young people at a time, whilst key workers ensure they learn vial skills such as budgeting, finance, life and house skills. Finally, Steeple House is a one bed ‘training flat’ which helps young people transition into adult life, teaching them to care for themselves.
Kennedy Elliott’s journey has been both challenging and rewarding. Offering insight into how the business has grown, Trevor says: ‘When we first created Kennedy Elliott, we had just four children in our care. Now, we’re caring for as many as we can possibly accommodate; we’ve grown extensively which is fantastic, we’ve always wanted to support as many children as we can which we definitely do. Of course, there’s one challenge which will always be difficult for our team to face and accept: sometimes we have to say no to children being placed with us because we simply don’t have any available beds. Britain’s foster care system is more in need of carers and support networks than ever before which makes this a disappointingly frequent occurrence. That’s why I’m calling for more young people to step forward; I want to debunk the stereotype that immerses foster parents and show that a wonderfully diverse range of people can be exceptional candidates. Only by doing this can we help to solve the problem and make more vital resources available for vulnerable children.’
Of course, any business committed to enriching the lives of vulnerable people can take great pride in its work. For Trevor, Kennedy Elliott’s biggest success is understandably simple and genuine: ‘Honestly, I’m most proud of the face that every day we help children to stay and feel safe. We all deserve to feel safe and bringing that into the lives of children who’ve had incredibly difficult lives so far is, in my mind, one of the most rewarding things you can do.’ Similarly, when asked about the secret behind Kennedy Elliott’s success, Trevor remains equally sincere: ‘There’s no secret to Kennedy Elliott’s success; yes, we’ve grown and built a successful business that we hope to continue developing, but we never set-out to create an empire or earn a certain amount of money. The entire team behind Kennedy Elliott is a part of the group because we want to help people – if anything’s our ‘secret’ it’s not a business strategy, it’s the fact that we truly care.’
Now, Trevor is passionately working to promote Britain’s need for more foster carers, familiarise people with the harsh realities that these children often face, raise vital donations and work alongside businesses as official Kennedy Elliott partners. Meanwhile, Trevor is planning to open two more Kennedy Elliott homes over the course of the next 12 months, expanding their reach and services at a time when the sector needs this support the most.
As an incredibly inspiring individual, Trevor’s advice for fellow entrepreneurs is to ‘Do what you love, do everything with a clean heart and follow the path you’re most passionate about.’ If there’s one quote he lives by, it’s ‘Do what you love to do’. Trevor, and subsequently Kennedy Elliott, brings everything back to basics, proving that success comes from being human, building connections and thinking about how your business impacts the wider world.