Bringing life to an idea isn’t an easy process – it takes time, consultation and lots of testing to get it to the stage, this stage, where the idea is laid bare and open to criticism and scrutiny.
Not that the criticism hasn’t happened already! Within only hours of releasing a feasibility consultation questionnaire we were hit with demands to reveal all and accused of being some malignant shadowy force akin to a Manchester based Illuminati – believe me when I say we’re neither!
Allow me to introduce myself, Damian Carr, and my co-founder? Partner? Mate 😉 Paul Ludden (honestly, we’ve not even got to the stage where we’ve allowed ourselves official titles). Both proud mancunians, although we’ll never agree on whether Red or Blue is best!
I’ve been knocking about for a number of years now, nearly 50 actually, which goes some way to explaining why it’s important to me to get this off the ground and to get it done right. Paul is in a similar position and we’ve both recently been through the trauma of waiting for our eldest sons to receive their GCSE results (are they still called that or have they changed again? I’m having difficulty keeping up). I wasn’t really prepared for this sneaky bastard of a milestone that really shook me up and had me fretting for weeks. I’m not sure if it brought back memories of my own right of passage, clutching my slip of paper with no idea whatsoever of who I was or what I wanted to do. I’ve always admired those driven types that are determined to be a nurse or an engineer and keep that focus all the way through. That just wasn’t me.
I left school knowing I was going to college but that’s pretty much where the plan ended. I grew up in Clayton and went to school in Gorton and had never received any inspirational career advice other than “get a job and stick at it, whether you like it or not”. It was never remotely suggested that I could have a career as a Counsellor or in Marketing or a Journalist or a Marine Biologist, and the idea that I could be an entrepreneur and develop my own ideas into a business was totally alien. All that I knew was that most of my family, and most of my friends families, worked in factories owned by faceless ‘bosses’ and that I’d be expected to do the same.
So here I am being all entrepreneurial and knowing exactly what it means and knowing exactly that is who I am. I am an Entrepreneur! And I care about communities and my passion is people and I have a social conscience and want to develop my vision to be ethical and all-inclusive. So therefore I’m a Social Entrepreneur.
So what qualifies me to do this someone recently asked? I have worked and volunteered in the Community for many years – I’ve been involved in projects such as guns & gangs, human trafficking, anti-racism, addiction, etc. I’ve supported lots of charities and community groups with vision, capacity building, fundraising, etc. I spent many years as an elected Union Official at Local, Regional and National levels. I’ve worked in prisons coaching/mentoring high risk prisoners, in Probation, on Therapeutic communities and I’ve arranged community events and campaigns and I’m a proud Mancunian.
I currently work on the streets of Manchester City centre supporting beggars, the homeless and entrenched rough-sleepers and recently organised an event that showcased poetry and art collected from people on the streets that they wanted to ‘give them a voice’. It was from this and many discussions inspiring people to lead better lives that led to the idea of MancSpirit.
Between Paul and myself we have a wide-reaching network within the Arts, Business and the Third sector who are passionate about getting actively involved to inspire vulnerable people, tackle social isolation, encourage cultural exchange and to encourage participation in creative activity.
We haven’t decided on the legal structure and whether a Charity, CIC or something else will be the best vehicle (although I am leaning towards a Charity with a seperate Community Trading Company). Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated 😉
We’re conducting this important feasibility study to gauge the need for a new Greater Manchester based Social Enterprise that harnesses Creative Manchester to provide projects that support mental well-being. All we need at the moment is your feedback and support to get it right – please fill in this short form and share around your networks for them to do the same – and we’ll do the rest.
Click this link to fill in the form https://goo.gl/forms/srdkWCfI2gix3lP23
Thank you for your time and support – Watch this Space! 😉
I’ll get Paul to write his own page soon 😉
(Credit to Lee Hartley a.k.a PaintSayers for the image – although he can’t say anything cos I bought the original off him and it’s hanging on my wall) – check out his other work on the 2nd floor of Affleck’s in Manchester, he’s a top lad, very talented and deserves your support.