It seemed apt that the weather should be so wondrously bright, positive and full of promise as we approached the offices of Each One Teach One (EOTO), AKA, The University of Alternative Learning. The brainchild of Plan B, the musician Ben Drew, was born out of the bleak riotous times of 2011; it is a real tribute to change, self-help and positivity.
The registered charity’s aim is to empower young people (14-25), by providing courses to impart useful skills and give students a better chance in the workplace. So far the trust is supporting training in hair dressing, boxing, drama, media and music. Future training projects include football and environmental studies. As well as providing new skills the trust hope the training projects will help to boost the students self confidence and make them really feel their self-worth.
On arrival at the Hackney Down studios in East London I was introduced to EOTO’s Director Sarah McLoughlin. Greeted with a warm smile I felt right at home, as McLoughlin radiated with passion for what the trust strive to achieve within east London. Ambitious but achievable targets for the future include the Organisations expansion into other fields and areas. Actively pursuing diversity in current and new subjects EOTO aim to help as many young people as possible.
At their launch event at Chats Palace last April, over 200 people attended to hear about the ethos and ambitious plans that the organisation had. Speaking at the event Ben Drew’s spoke of his inspiration for forming the charity while working on his film ILL Manors with young people, where he noted how those involved became really inspired by working on the project. Drew’s enthusiasm for the trust meant that the scheduled one hour talk ran over by an hour and a half. EOTO also held a fundraising event at Shoreditch House in September 2013 where numerous famous stars donated experiences and items to be auctioned including a jacket from Elton John and lunch with the amazing Paloma Faith.
After working on the film and in reaction to the 2011 riots Drew advised McLoughlin to go and find some projects to fund. McLoughlin said that Drew tends to be strategic in his approach to running the trust, by developing ideas and then getting the staff to implement them. This is not to say Drew is not hands on, as he often visits projects to watch workshops in progress and talk to the students being helped.
Speaking about why the trust provides funding to the social enterprises McLoughlin said: ”I think there are a lot of young people who are just abandoned by the government and its not really a priority for them to change the situation. It seem to me that the amount of work it would take to improve the lives of these young people and their families does not seem to be worth the resources so they’re just left without the right support and opportunities”
At the present EOTO do not have a set criteria for selecting a project to help and aim to develop long term partnerships based on mutual beliefs. In the case of The Hair Project, on Kingsland Road, Ben’s friend Ny, also a well known singer, approached Ben to tell him about the great work that they were doing. The Hair Project is run by professional hairdressers who work with young people, providing training and work experience. Before EOTO’s support the social enterprise were struggling to find the funding to cover the work that was needed to really support and develop young people, but the trust really liked their ethos and decided to help the organisation become sustainable.
Unlike a grant giving trust Each One helps develop projects and like many small organisations have more ideas than resources. While capacity to do things can be frustrating McLoughlin said: ”Seeing the impact that we have with people [is really rewarding], so with young people actually seeing their development and seeing how they have improved over time and with the organisations how we can help them with projects and seeing that growth in their journey.”
To find out more about EOTO and to find out about the great social enterprises they support visit their website
Originally written for Big Issue Online Journalists by Sean Sales: http://bigissueonlinejournalists.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/kickstarting-the-forgotten-generation/