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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Saturday 15 November 2014


Autumn is the season between. Things fall away, turn in colour, reveal otherness in them. Summer is waiting to be wintered out.

Walking through leaves in London’s St James Park, I read the news on my phone: Beat Bullying is in administration. A man stooped on a bench looks up from his vain interest in empty larger cans, to register my surprise with a grim gummy smile.

Today, I’m reading stories of how staff at Beatbullying were themselves bullied inside a ‘business’ careering out of control. Like the Roman Empire facing barbarians, this seemed a leadership imperious to the idea of loss.  It kept on killing because it had the power to make others submit. Until, flagless in the field, a golden eagle gone, bodies begin to speak from the carnage.

We look to the hollow centre, choking on disgust.  How could a charity responsible to fight bullying, appear to bully others? But lynching crowds miss the real story. Beatbullying is all of us. Whatever gets proven, those wielding its power had reached a point of truth: for in the darkness of our modern Charity is a brutal void. All Beatbullying did, perhaps, was occupy its empty heart.

Once upon a time, the word Charity equated to love. Then, it was alms for poor people -  the deserving, the undeserving. We became an industry; companies; the business of doing good with contracts.  Now, there are more innovators employed to develop fundraising campaigns than those creating ideas to eradicate the issues we are meant to address. Charity has moved from the ‘giving’ of love and solutions, to the ‘getting’ of funds and the delivery of project plans within structures of work, pay, and governance that are devoid of love. Where the most precious resource, the staff who work with direct relationships on the ground, are paid and supported the least. 

The adverts, the impact stories, the speeches and tweets; we are the science that has learnt to sell disadvantage for itself. We are the graffiti makers of trickledown compassion.

Charity is a muddied, constrained word that loses value each time it is spoken. I don’t believe it anymore. I want to beat its hurt. Beatcharity for something else - a feeling, a being that can make intelligent love breathe among us again, from lost city estate to lonely field. I imagine a revolution led from the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, taking back its assets from the hands of those who have vacated the responsibility to believe in a different shape.

I’m walking in St James’ Park. There are less leaves now. Couples seek comfort in clutched hands. I wonder, how many of them know this place is named after a leper colony, dedicated to a man beheaded for his beliefs?  That’s what it means to love.  Prepared to lose everything, prepared to live everything; in pure integrity. Not the compromise of another bullied year to survive. 
The martyrs die in silence among us, beaten by our life.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Radio reality

Logic models face a challenge when they touch the human face of feeling.  No matter what the fidelity system  -  the values, the intentions, the authentic purpose – their words exist only in the agile interact between a model and the matter of experience from which our lives are drawn. Like sandpaper against a fresh scar.

The most interesting leaders are those that thrive in the conflict of play between our internal and external world. It’s where the pearl of learning resides. How we shape and are shaped. The humans that do are preciously rare fragile angels of ice holding molten iron to heat our hearts.

We are receptors for feelings that stretch back generations, mixing within our identity, our senses, our taught responses, our instincts.  Radio reality.  The best we can do is embrace each aspect of being and know its use: those to be left behind; those to explore; those we are not ready for yet.  While it is true we cannot be defined by our feeling, our feelings are acts of becoming.   

I write a lot about ‘complex’ emotions because within their sharp figurines are transformations.  The decision points of our spirit.  I’m not afraid of the past negative, because I know it can be remade a brilliant diamond. It’s one of the amazing traits of the young people I’ve witnessed; their capacity to blossom out from pain.  The up-cycling of human courage.  Advantaged thinking, therefore, is not just about pinning up gold stars to smiles. The philosopher's stone needs blood too.

In the East, they believe in the laws of the universe; the cause and effect that threads through life.  Our propensity is to code the feelings we see in young people as a sickness to be cured. We fail to see the signs of the coal-mine canary in the cage of youth, pointing back to us. We are the cause of the effects around and inside us; while we live out effects from the cause-line we have been born from. And we do it in rigid silence. Adults luxuriate in the knowledge of a system flawed to the core of executive office chairs.

Confined in such models, we rationalise ever new structures, to hide from our inability to love each other as the people we really are…...........scared of.

Wednesday 12 November 2014


Feelings never go away. They are cat paws in cement.  Some nights, they chase you down and mug you.

The lights through a train window flicker back years. You are running out of the pub in a purple blue hippy dress. ‘You don’t care,’ are the words crushed under a falling wall of tears; letters left to hang in the air like a child’s floating balloon tied to my dumb head. I’m sitting alone, fingering a cracked glass. Even its slice of lemon is shrivelled, gin-less.

All I remember was, you said you were going to do a PhD, and I replied – ‘oh, on what?’  It was the broken spell; the moment a thread that held our hearts ripped.  What - what - what.... Oh.

 I got up to follow.  Like the film we were in expected something. You’d run across the road, weaving into the crowd beneath the city castle, until your dress blurred into too many colours to distinguish a presence. I thought, if I could reach you now, could we go back to the beginning? Do it all again, without crossings out? In the street at night, by a grilled shop-front, hugged together to the touch of cold metal – that was the moment.

The sky begins to rain.  Outside the pub, someone I don’t even know is weeping  under a grey hoodie.   ‘Fuck you,’ I hear them say.  Their face lifts, with eyes so burnt with red, it’s as though someone has scooped them out infront of me.  

I watched myself walk home, like when I was so small, I watched myself watching someone hit someone else  - in front of me.   I found a distance to be outside my body, so whatever happened to me, in that moment, I wouldn't be there to be hurt by it.  Maybe that's why the feeling keeps coming back. Because it couldn't get me. And it wants to, each time someone cries and looks at me, it wants to. The hit; you running away. The hit; you running away.  Under the tears, the eyes keep saying ‘Fucking fuck you.’

We used to take the hand-outs at the back of the lecture hall, slip out to play pool, plot mad schemes, dance by the riverside, listen to Bob Marley with the phone pulled out from the wall.  Jammin. You seemed so happy when you got your son back. We’d present him to the crèche in the morning, the worst parents in the world as he wailed the endless snaking bus journey through tutting stares. It was when you had to give him back, all the drugs started.  ‘You don’t mind,’ you asked, explaining how you’d moved in with the dealer. We were eating soggy lasagne in your room, in front of the TV news so no one could hear us say nothing.  When we met in the corridor, a week afterwards, I didn’t breathe a word. I wanted to pretend that I couldn’t feel anything at all.  'I've hurt you,' you offered, trying  to hunt my gaze; but I shook my head, lost in the peel of paint on a rusting radiator.

It’s the purple blue dress I remember the most: the one she wore when we were happy with each other. I hadn’t seen her wear it again, before that last day atthe pub.  It's always running away from me in my mind. A moth that won’t stop haunting the lampshade with tears.
A few years later, when I was emptying a room, I discovered a beautiful green frog. I meant to give the smiley face to him but he vanished before I ever had the chance. I took it to the charity shop. 'Please,' I asked, 'make sure someone good gets this.' A last touch of velvet left my hands with love.

Monday 3 November 2014

Toxic - How charity has become the wrong Monty Python joke

When Monty Python were in rehearsals for their comeback this year, one wonders if they reflected on how some of their sketches would stand the test of time.  If they did, then their confidence in performing The Four Yorkshiremen sketch  – a parody on narratives about difficult childhoods – seems sadly well placed.

In the charity sector there is a techincal term to describe the Four Yorkshiremen sketch – it’s called research-based fundraising narratives.  The basic principle is to paint as negative a view of young people as possible, sprinkle a few connections to the inspiring works of the charity publishing the report, and make recommendations which will validate the charity's own needs for further funding. 

Following The Prince’s Trust’s ‘Youth Index’ –  an annual event of self-serving misery – now we have Centrepoint’s ‘Toxic Mix’, a report on the health needs of those they continue to stigmatise as ‘homeless young people’.  Centrepoint has published some useful things in its time, but this report marks a low point.  I have to confess, I didn’t have enough wellbeing to read beyond the executive summary leaflet, which limits my views. But there is plenty here to get upset about.

Let’s start with the pictures.  Centrepoint has made a name for itself in recent years as a campaigner offering black and white images of young people looking sad for us to donate 40p to.  At least we are treated to colour pictures, though their penchant for using actors or posed images remains. One can only assume the young person with a smiling face reading a book in the library wasn’t looking at a Centrepoint report that has hardly a positive word to say about them.

I had harboured the hope that Centrepoint’s successful fundraising was investing in innovation. Indeed, I know that their health work is meant to be pretty good.  It and the people they serve – and let’s not forget that word– deserve far better than a report whose negative language and understanding adds little to the pressing need to address the health inequalities experienced by youth in homelessness contexts.  Not that this is a summary which even mentions the word ‘health inequalities’, or can find in its heart to suggest that young people might also possess the health ability to shape their own thriving futures.

We are told that within Centrepoint, ‘working with young people to address their health needs is a fundamental part of the process…’ But strangely it doesn’t appear to be one that stretches to recommending that anyone should actively involve those young people in defining their experience of a healthy life and how its supports can be shaped. Clearly, young people’s role in this bleak view of charity and health is to ‘get’ rather than to ‘give’. It makes for a thin set of recommendations.

Ironically, the report highlights the important issue of ‘the ongoing stigma associated with mental health’.  I quote: ‘staff reported that young people still hold negative views about mental health and are nervous of talking about problems they may be facing because of the associated negative stereotypes.’ Just exactly how are Centrepoint contributing anything positive to this by continuing to use deficit-based marketing collateral to sell homeless services? Why produce a summary report that offers nothing positive in its analysis to address the idea that mental health has anything other than negative needs-based connotations with this particular group of young people?  I can’t understand how a charity could possibly fail to realise that its own choice of language fuels the general stigma that young people face in our sector and society. As Martin Seligman notes, to flourish, you also need the right words and associations to connect with in your environment. Are we really so ill equipped that we can't identify those things in our health assessments and interviews?

Page 4 of the executive summary produces a little image of a person surrounded by circles explaining the various negative health needs of young people.  There is room on the page, but no attempt to offer any of the qualities that young people show in dealing with their health challenges; in the assets and strengths that they do possess; in the many things that they bring to their community; in their personal goals and resilience to keep going in the face of such misrepresentation.  Despite talking about a ‘young person focussed approach’, young people have actually become a set of ‘needs’ in which they are utimately a ‘homeless’ stereotype first and foremost, an actual person second (See how the Teenage Cancer Trust talk about who they work with ‘as young people first, cancer patients second’ for an alternative).

Like the Monty Python sketch, this becomes an executive summary in which you can almost hear the writer salivating over the worst data they can find to support a cause demeaned by its presentation.  Young people deserve a better future – one they can create themselves when they have the right investments and belief.  A toxic mix of disadvantaged thinking about health needs is no remedy.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Vision on

Eyes strain through new glass. Thin wire frames hold a different way to blink in bi-focus. If only I could look a straight line ahead, not be so distracted by cruel, beautiful jewels of experience.

I watch the blurs between people grow; gaps, edges, the way things don’t blend into each other at all. How colours burst the heart. My head has become a camera, endlessly filming for an empty cinema of thought. Someone will edit out the cuts that don’t fit: people wearing the wrong trousers, talking to themselves, not fitting in; a figure menacingly staring at an empty can of larger. My gaze has got lost in the background story; become too attached to sketchy figures in the corner. An old woman, stooped under her load of unbearable time.

Like an out of control receiver, these glasses of mine pick up alternative channels.  Programmes that would never make the radio times:  break-up-fast; lunch hate; the sweet nothing show; scream until dawn.

What if one could reach beyond the suitcase of each person’s eyes, inside to their packed up feelings, stuffed memories? The witnessing-place of narrative exposed.  The guts of our concealed existence x-rayed out.

I hide in the supermarket from my sight, creeping wearily between shelves, squinting at serving suggestions on tins to escape from too much vision, watching lost souls executed with credit cards they didn’t come to shop for.

When I went to the opticians, the lady instructed me to look to the bottom of her right hand ear as she inspected my left eye. Manicured finger nails pointed me towards a brilliant diamond stud. I tried to stare, but its showy glisten and needy twinkle made me shift.

‘What’s wrong’, she said, ‘Can’t you focus?’

From her diamond, I could see the bottom of a mine: a mouth choking without air in the dark.


Wrong John

I sat down in an empty train carriage at night. The ghosts of littered newspapers, food wrappers, the lonely signs of busy lives returned to home. Then, as the metal and glass cranked forward  through shadowy stations, he emerged. Sharp brown eyes in a canvas of pale skin.  The suspicious young person sitting beside me, like a modern Ancient Mariner with hooded fixed stare: ‘I know it’s not a nice thing to ask really…. Would you have 80p?.’

 I glanced at bitten-nail fingers, the pleading look of a different type of salesman to those who had left the train.  Someone worth at least a smile, which I gave while weighing up the exactness of his amount.

 ‘Yeh, 80p’ he said, reading my mind, ‘I’m that skint man.’

80p for something that was probably not a great thing, though how much worse than what I spend all the 80ps of my life on.  A kitkat? Between one need and another, mine felt far less.

I searched in my pockets, fingering through a chaos of keys and pens for what was only a single 20p coin. ‘It’s all I have on me,’ I said.  ‘What’s your name?’


‘I’m sorry, Jon, it’s not enough –‘

‘Don’t be, it’s appreciated.’

Taking the coin from my palm, he touched-in with a quick handshake. The ritual of exchange.

‘At least,’ I said, as he made to go, ‘it’s half what Centrepoint ask for…’

‘What’s that?’

‘The Centrepoint advert. You haven’t seen it? It says, just 40p could give John a safe place to live.’

‘Well, they’ve got the wrong Jon mate. I need twice that, and I don’t know anywhere I’d call safe.’

‘You should give them a ring. There’s probably a poster on one of the carriages back.’

‘Fuck that - It’ll cost me more than 40p to call.’ He stuffed the coin into his trousers and abandoned me to my thoughts. 

The wrong Jon…

When the real world collides with us, we feel somehow diminished and poor of love.  Or more aware of the fault lines and cracks in our image. If only there was an advert that could actually give Jon something, instead of asking us to give to someone else who claims to know him – because who is ever going to trust jon. I started to imagine a train filled  up with Jon’s, with people like us walking up and down asking for something of value.  What would Jon give us, I wondered? Probably a lot more than 40 or even 80p’s worth of experience.  Though, like me, we wouldn’t know how to ask him for it.  We are so far down the wrong track of value and exchange, we don’t even know what the journey is anymore.  

At that point, I realised I had missed my stop …

Sunday 26 October 2014

Doing charity differently

'Charity begins at home’ has long been a refrain associated with selfish detachment. Of ignoring social and international responsibilities to focus on ourselves and our personal economic wellbeing.  It’s a hackneyed expression, but one that has a hidden truth to be cherished. We have, for too long, mistaken charity as an act of giving alms, rather than its original association with acts of love.  There are many things to be said against piling up the pennies for one’s self, as an individual or a country; but the absence of love in our own home is something which makes us all less able to shape a thriving world.

As I reflect on my own career in charity, and look over a Berlin-wall of branded fences into the living rooms of other youth charity families, I am left with a horrible feeling that we have become homeless through the disassociation of our love from the causes we are meant to be working for. We develop our skills as project managers, budget holders, communication and relationship experts; we become coaches, counsellors, trainers, mentors; and we all want to be entrepreneurs, innovators, the next big thing.  We go on team building days, we explore our Myers Briggs and other personal and team profiles, we develop a culture and a way of working, we express our values. All this, while we work on programmes and campaigns to improve the lives and prospects of the young people we care for, with the promise that they themselves are the opportunity to transform the narrative of disadvantage which has challenged their lives.

What we don’t do is open up the engine to look into the deeper reality of who we are, where we have come from, and the potential that exists in and between us to recycle and transform our personal narrative into something that can create a different future.  While we might be moved to consider that as a programme to invest in for young people, we are less likely to consider that as worthwhile for ourselves. Which is where the problem exists: we are not authentic, and can never be so while we grapple with or blankly ignore our own inner narratives of being and conflict that we project out through our work onto and with others.  Until we realise that, we will forever be talking about making a breakthrough in the changing paradigm without achieving it, free-falling through space without realising the parachute cord is held between our hearts.

Charity does not do charity, because it is lost in a model of working and organising that is from a different world. Walk into an office, look around the people inside it; see beyond the computer-screen eyes to a hidden place of feeling, experiences, ancestral conflict, secrets, and the huge possibility to connect and shape all that into a new energy to thrive from.  How can we be so complacent to miss that; how can we not see the obvious connection between who we are and the challenges we are trying to address in our society?

There is a fusion to be had, within the home of charities, and between the homes of different charities, that would profoundly change the shape of the sector into a revolutionary community. Just imagine – a charity that is a home for human development; that authentically lives how to transform narrative and maximise personal potential through others in itself; that has abandoned the restrictions of replication for the abundant energy of continual innovation; that can be a philosophers stone to turn disadvantage into advantage.

Perhaps I feel this more strongly than ever in a week when the past has collided with my mind in the form of Lorna Sage, the wonderful teacher and writer who was the subject of one of my former blogs  Her name came up this week in conversation, and with it memories of something important she was trying to tell me one night in 1992 about the concept of ‘bad blood’. Lorna’s turned on its head the idea that we were left to hand down the bad blood of our ancestors - because the power of language and literature for her was something that could genuinely transform personal and social narratives into something new. In the book that idea would became in 2001, Lorna left us a well of good blood to nourish the future.  She also left us, perhaps, something of a challenge; not to neglect the personal history of who we are, and the importance of taking back control of one’s story in order to escape from it. 

That is a challenge which charity is to busy 'doing alms' to begin to see. Charity is failing in its responsibilities to begin charity at home. It urgently needs to wake up and start again, reclaiming its narrative from campaigns and contracts into something more beautiful.  Like the young people our sector is meant to represent, we are in danger of becoming a lost generation of missed potential to change and transform the story we all own part of in our self.  Let’s spill some shared blood and paint the canvas differently.

Sunday 19 October 2014


There is a large vault with 5 discrete spaces. You are led into the vault, through darkness, hearing the sound of heartbeats, breaths, crying, laughter, the mingling of life’s sensations.

You arrive to be left alone.

Space one contains all the feelings of young people we signify as undesirable: their anger, their suffering, their cynicism, their apathy, their violence, their self-harm, their otherness.

Then you are taken away, and left alone.

Space two contains all the feelings about young people we signify as undesirable: our criticisms, our blame, our fear, our frustration, our low aspiration, our victimisation, our confusion.

Then you are taken further, and left alone.

Space three contains all the feeling that young people have we signify as positive: their dreams, their love, their community, their creativity, their generosity, their risk, their intensity, their innocence.

Then you are taken further still, and left alone.

Space four contains nothing but an invitation for your feelings to be shared, in whatever shape and form is possible among the blankness, games, interaction, skin, mind, soul.

You are led to the last space, where others are waiting for you. It is a full of what has been performed by each visitor of the fourth space. You join an audience watching as your feeling is brought in to be displayed with the others, connecting with and changing everything about it.

When the time ceases, everyone leaves through a narrow door, alone and together, recycling what has been felt back into the world. This is a factory.

Saturday 18 October 2014


 I am receiving feeling. A numb communion. The dilapidated building with graffiti tears, the child’s empty face, a couple arguing over a black sofa on credit they can’t afford, the cracked lipstick of a tired supermarket lady, my reflection shimmering in a mirror I want to break.  The distinction between me and these pulses of pain is a misplaced sense of being. For there is nothing here but the connected hurt of this moment, channelled through a heart beating with beauty into death.  

The feeling is bigger than myself. The ghosts of experience have unlocked the windows to come in. Their ashen eyes hide from trusting anyone’s view of the pity they carry. They whisper in cuts and coughs and curses. There is no squeezed middle among them; these are the ones who walk with broken legs up squalid stairs.  The bottom of the pyramid, gesturing for attention with its slit throat.

I am fighting with feeling, because it’s not allowed to be expressed. The illicit underground of emotion barricaded into frail submission, opened like a forgotten daisy blossom into the burnt sky. I have become a feeling of all the feelings we are working for, and it suffocates my ability to be of worth. Through Smithfield’s market, the agony of a martyr’s ripped bowels kisses me goodbye.

Feeing has enchanted me. There is a room full of what it is not to be loved, of disappointment, betrayal, frost bite in summer, full of too many words to cram into a language; of the yearning to be touched, of wanting to belong as the crowd disappears over the summit, of almost runs, dreams left to be wrecked, swallowed memories of violence, introspections spidered into the web that hangs me; of knowing I am nothing but a figure in the spreadsheet, contained, zeroed into gossip.

Feeling is receiving me. Like a body burnt on the river, a tattoo mesmerising my soul.  The desperate need to speak through stammered worlds throttles my normality.  Passion’s cried-out mouth bites on cotton pillows from the hunger of  embracing shadows.

Think away, with your missions, values and ambitions. Don’t think with me. Don't feel with me.  I’m a thought of feeling that has gone. 

Sunday 28 September 2014

Back to the knitting

The ‘stick to your knitting’ down fall of another hectoring politician has an important message. Far more than what Marx described as history repeating itself as tragedy and then comedy, what we face is the ‘blind spot’ of a humanity unable to recognise itself in the drama.

My thesis is this: the issues that ‘civil society’ are engaged with are all ‘canaries in the mine’ that point back to a source of poison gas within ourselves.  If we could deal with the gas in the mine, the canary wouldn’t keep suffering. And young people are our biggest canary, most reflective of the chaos by which humans fail to love, communicate with and bring out the best in each other – whether in families, organisations, or communities.

If I look back on my working life, at least a third of it has been spent trying to solve inter-relationships that have got in the way of offering effective services to people.  And if I look across the charity sector, I see organisations that are hosts to so many human dramas, within a tragi-comedy where charities are competing against or trying to work with other organisations with the same character flaws. All in the name of a charitable mission that is lost under the Game of Thrones battle for sustainable funding and ‘recognition’.

The HR, change management, partnership, governance, funding, and workforce development approaches we use to shape our civil society are all unfit for the position we are in. None of them come from a position of how to love and work with each other in a shared community of purpose.  They are rational systems, but the human emotions we are dealing with defy their logic. What we face are the paisley pyjama bottoms of fallibility.

When Newmark said stick to the knitting; when Major famously talked about back to basics; both unintentionally touched on a deeper truth: that the knitting and basics are the messy human flaws and vulnerabilities we like to blame others for – problem families, feral youth, etc – but are best personified in the everyday actions of ourselves. I wouldn’t like to imagine what pyjamas the cabinet and its shadow wear each night, let alone who paid for them. The point is that it’s irrational for us to believe that we are led by saints whose only intent is to serve. Just as it is irrational for those in power to criminalise others for being in positions of poverty.

In my experience, charities deal with the faulty ‘knitting’ of family systems, politicians, social class and gender structures, and personal conflicts between ourselves, that have ‘stuck’ various people with intolerable challenges.  We must to get back to that fact.  The laws, values and habits that define the knitting patterns of our society and ego all need urgent renewal.  If pyjama politicians, sting-obsessed journalists and funding-obsessed charity leaders are not up to that task, then it’s time for someone else to take a lead. Who wants to shape a different tribe?  I so dearly do...

Sunday 21 September 2014

A trip to Kangan Foyer, a home for Advantaged Thinking

 At the immigration museum, in Melbourne, they talk about the symbolic power of the suitcase - something a traveller takes with them (if lucky enough to have one) in hope or fear of the journey ahead. Since my bag had got lost in transit, it seemed rather appropriate to ponder its significance. Rather like a home, the suitcase is a material comfort zone, and to be without it has its own sense of displacement. But what was more important to me – the clothes in the bag, or the memories, feelings and ideas in myself? We pack stuff in the suitcase, when the important thing is what we unpack from ourselves through our connection with others.

I have been lucky on my third trip to Melbourne to be in the company of the wonderful people from The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Hanover.  Friday, I got my first chance to visit the Kangan Foyer in Broadmeadows, about 30 minutes outside the city centre, which last time I was out here was just a concept and a set of drawings the organisations were working on together with me. It was truly magical to see its bold, vibrant colours rise up in the landscape, and then open the front door to the sign ‘welcome home’ hanging in reception. 

The Foyer is the only service that has been fully shaped through Advantaged Thinking and Open Talent concepts from the very outset, so what you see in the building design, the staffing, the programme, and the community of young people, is an expression of the philosophies in practice.

And what a sight it is: space, light, colour, welcoming faces, bundles of activity, places to do things, and all the vibrant chaos that makes a community alive and real.  With a huge kitchen area as the hub of the service, a beautiful patio with views of the hills, and a mixed group of young people from different backgrounds, you immediately feel part of a positive family setting. Only the young people here are all called students – and the point becomes very clear that this is about a collegiate environment to learn and develop in, with access to all the facilities of the local college that shares the same land area.

I was able to join in a session with the students talking about what they thought the values of the Foyer are.  I’ve always judged a Foyer from how the people living and working inside interact with you as a person, and I was gripped by the quality of the exchange in the session just as much as in the informal conversations over a barbecue. The values recognised ranged from being bold, aspirational and imaginative, to strength, consistency and honesty, to teamwork, approachability and respect, to diversity and kindness, openness and intuition. It was an amazing choice of words from an amazing group of people. Who wouldn’t want to live among them?


One of the messages I am here to share on my trip is the importance of using our values to invest real value in young people.  Adult institutions often think they are the guardian of values, but the reality is that we lose sight of what our values mean, until we become their antithesis in what we do and how we behave to each other.  Look at some of our mean spirited social policies, and the competition between organisations in the charity sector, and you see exactly what happens when we lose our grip on what defines us as humans. Maybe it’s the young people, the students of the Kangan Foyer, who can best remind us of what we have lost in the baggage of growing up.  If values mean anything, they are defined in how we create communities where we all feel at home.


For further information, see:

Saturday 9 August 2014

The Adventures of tATa-man - post show reflections


The performance is over. I’m reminded of something Fassbinder wrote: what happens when the credits finish rolling, the audience leaves, and you are left with yourself in shadows.  You realise that, while you may - hopefully - have left an imprint on others, you can only feel emptiness where the words and images had lived in your heart, slowly filling up like a dam with the next emotional current to feed on.  It’s a bit like wandering into a desert where the eye of a lake has been burnt out, feeling the horizon sun brand your lips with its memory.

There is nothing you can ever do to feed the hunger of ‘remedial child’.  I’m not brave or courageous at all; I’m just a car driven by a memory of pain that is remorseless in its desire to voice all the things it sees a connection with and wants to reclaim.

4 years ago, on my first visit to Japan, I woke up in the early morning, crying in abandonment, with the memory of my grandfather choked in my mind. I had no idea why I was crying or why I was thinking of him. On my return home, I discovered that the man I never saw in my life or previously gave any consideration to, would walk through Farringdon meat market every morning, just as I do now, and his first name was given to me as my middle name – the one I like to use with my friends. So there I was, thousands of miles away in a country he never visited, thinking of him as though the closet person in my life had died. I suddenly caught a  glimpse of the deep DNA link we have with our ancestors; a water well, frozen in space in time, while we stagger in thirst. And so, the performance was dedicated as a gift to him, just as the ideas in it were gifted to the audience in whatever way they wished to receive them, to generate an energy that might break through the ice, a ‘source’ banana to feed new action.

It’s time to finish writing the script now – or at least to say there way one – and put it away in a box on the shelf. What next, my friends ask? Social shiatsu, canary freedom and fusion, are all dear to me though perhaps beyond the remit of Foyer Federation. Of course, there are many ideas still to come, just as there will be many other people running down different tracks with fresh vision. I only know that I’m moving on, flourishing with my remedial mind…
Check out the story from the 6th August show:

Thursday 5 June 2014

People First

After two interesting evenings spent at a YMCA London celebration at City Hall, and a Lankelly Chase hosted conversation about the concept of ‘Housing First’, I feel compelled to ponder the question of why the charity sector has not been able to translate its work with young people into a more urgent issue of social justice. Looking out over the view from City Hall, what one is faced with is one of the worst poverty gaps in the western world;  but what one sees is just more housing developments along the river.  We don’t seem to be getting the message.

At the YMCE event, Chief Executive Denise Hatton identified that YMCAs were brilliant at getting on with the ‘doing’, but not always very good when it came to talking about the significance of what they did.  It would be easy to see that as just a challenge for a communications and fundraising team, or another reason to bemoan why the media and Government are more obsessed with headlines of far less significance. There is something more fundamental at stake though: that somehow the charity sector gets easily lost in the wrong narrative of what we are meant to be doing as charity.  On the same YMCA platform, we were treated to a fascinating story about a young person who had benefited from a YMCA, who chose a telling quote from Nelson Mandela to illustrate the importance of the YMCA experience: ‘Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice’.  Reminded of the City view, I wondered for a moment if it was not the purpose of charity today, in filling the gaps in our society, to fight for the ‘act of justice’ required to overcome poverty in a more sustainable way. Is that not what we should be ‘doing’?

Which is where Housing First becomes interesting, as a ‘model’ developed from the principle that access to housing should be a fundamental human right. Housing First seeks to find a way to put that human right into practice for people experiencing homelessness, so that housing becomes the initial bedrock around which other services can be connected and support issues addressed.  At the Lankelly Chase event, I was fascinated in the language used by the experts sharing their work on Housing First. They went out of their way to explain it was not of course just about the housing. It was, as I would describe it, more of a ‘people first’ approach, in which the concepts of empowerment and choice were the fundamental touchstones brought to the surface by putting a focus on housing first into the support dynamic. However, the word I kept hearing, again and again, was that Housing First was for ‘homeless people’.  Not people experiencing homelessness, with a whole set of characteristics and issues wrapped around who they are and why they are in that context; but the dehumanising stereotype, ‘homeless people’, with the usual array of problem and negative-based language attached to it. The ‘people’ at the very heart of the empowerment and choice process, by that very language of 'homeless first', were unintentionally being imprisoned within a narrative where they can never find their rights as a ‘person first’. Which is not to diminish the importance of the Housing First model, or criticise the experts sharing its important insights; it is a signification that the rights we need to talk about are not just those associated with housing, but our very concept of what it is to be a ‘person first’.

If you have heard me speak, you might know that I like to talk about the work of Thomas Spence and Thomas Paine, both associated with the concept of ‘the rights of man’. Looking at their arguments about the rights to have somewhere to live and some way to earn a living, one can see a gap in their 19th Century thinking that we can add to today: the right to be seen as a person of value. Or what you might call the right to be seen as someone who has assets, ability, talent, positives, character – whatever society will value and invest in. If that was a human right, what would it mean for the touchstones of empowerment and choice so lacking for some people in our social system? 

In 2009, The Foyer Federation began to take what I now realise was a ‘talent first’ approach: to try - in a similar way to Housing First – to change the conversation and approach on how services work with people based on looking at their potential first instead of just their problems.  Where we have reached in that process, is realising that the answer will never be found alone in workforce development, service design, commissioning, impact evaluation, another innovative programme with funding, etc. The answer is in what all those ‘doing things’ can add up to; how they can create the ‘act of justice’ to alleviate the issue that lies at the heart of why YMCAs, Housing First, and Foyers exist. That ‘issue’, I believe, is how we think about, understand, talk about, involve, and value the people who we work with and for. 

At the Foyer Federation, we call this Advantaged Thinking, and we are launching a Movement to attract those ‘doers’ who want to develop the cause.  Where will it go? Perhaps one day, we will be able to rewrite the words of Nelson Mandela, and say: Charity is an act of justice to overcome poverty in everything we do. That’s the type of charity I want to keep ‘doing’.

Shape the future in a night of Taking Advantaged Thinking Action at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE

Sunday 1 June 2014


‘Nosferatu lands on British shores’ is becoming a predictable headline to the UK’s irrational arguments on immigration. In the 1920’s, German society’s fears about eastern migrants were famously evoked on film through the vampire caricature of Nosferatu. The migrant perceived as a source of plague , someone who sucks people’s blood and brings terror to local communities, is now all too familiar. Today, primeval concerns against ‘otherness’ are played out through debates about the impact of migrants on British jobs and the welfare state.  However the political elite try to portray Ukip, the language of ‘swivel eyed loons’ carries far less potency than the image of the so-called ‘illegal immigrant’ stealing our jobs and national identity without being able to speak the Queen’s English. Ukip might look and sound a bit odd, but the Nosferatu they have conjured up into public consciousness is a far greater magnet for people’s loathing.
What we are seeing are the laws of Disadvantaged Thinking in full play: you remove someone’s humanity under a classification such as ‘immigrant’ or 'homeless'; you tag the stereotype with negative associations until they all become ‘illegal’ and 'feckless'; you narrow understanding of the issues at stake into a limited dialogue  that distorts reality; you invest time and resource disproportionately on controlling a problem that is part of a bigger issue you choose to ignore; you focus on the deficits you see rather than work on harnessing the potential assets to society; you apply a different set of values than those you would in your own personal life; and you don’t challenge yourself to question what your attitudes and behaviour add up to as a human being. Bingo. The Dis-feratu of Ukip and the Coalition Government; one blaming immigrants, the other young people.
Thus, we end up in a 'doublethink' position where, while people migrating from EU states pay more tax than they receive in benefit, and are less likely than UK nationals to claim out of work benefits, we accuse people from Eastern Europe of holding back the UK economy and swindling the system. Indeed, far from stealing our livelihoods, 17.2% of foreign nationals have set up businesses, creating 12% of current British jobs.  Similar disparities in belief and reality exist for young people tatooed by policy makers with the letters 'NEET'.  In both cases, the facts count for nothing against the images that populate our consciousness. Migrants are the new ‘disadvantaged youth’ of our cultural imagination – a bin to recycle our social challenges and failings into an enemy we can hold responsible.   Who cares that even the Governor of the Bank of England thinks capitalism needs to invest more in the social capital of others, when the creakings of the social contract can more easily be blamed on the refugees and yobs of our distorted imagination. We are a society in denial to its abuse of values.
There is something, though, positive about this: British Politics might just be beginning to wake up from its addiction to stereotypes and sound bites under the threat that it has lost the power to touch our soul more deeply than a xenophobic argument.  It is becoming hoist by its own media petard, and it knows it.  Reacting to the success of UKIP in the council elections, Overseas Development Minster Lynne Featherstone MP described to the BBC;All of us have got to the point where we are so guarded, so on-message that we seem to have started to lose our humanity and I think it’s a very human thing that’s happened.’ 
For some time, the status quo in the UK has been more about controlling society to cope with the perceived threat of negative forces, than creating a fairer, equitable world in which we can all thrive. Not used to galvanising people’s power to shape a positive future, our politicians don’t seem to know how to stop Nosferatu from stealing their shadowy soapbox.  If they, like us, can push back the stereotypes of Disadvantaged Thinking, and focus on the humanity of what we can do together, then we are all more likely to see the light of tomorrow’s dawn - where Nosferatu 'dis'-appears in a puff of smoke.

Shape the future in a night of Taking Advantaged Thinking Action at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE

Sunday 27 April 2014

2021: a space for odyssey

By 2021, the first cohort of young people born in this millennium will reach their transition threshold. What we already know is that a significant number will not be in a position to harness their talents.  In the 21st century, we have become the social parent lacking the leadership skills to equip the generation growing up under our watch.  How do we create a different environment that enables all young people to thrive?   

We have a world of diminishing resources, we have an ageing population; we simply can’t afford not to have our main social asset – young people – fulfilling their full potential.  Nor can we pretend that their failure is just the fault of the individuals involved.  When our millennium turns 21 in 7 years time, it needs to face up to its responsibility as an adult by accepting the challenge to shape its own future. One in which all young people can be connected with their talent potential by the age of 21, and know where and how to take the next step in their life. A future where we begin to be more clever about what we invest in to make change happen throughout people’s lives. 

 Our millenium needs to make space for a new odyssey in thinking - by reimaginging the face and voice of charity.  They say charity begins at home; and perhaps the truth is that the home of our social challenges is reflected in the way that charity works.  Because charity is not always working as it could.  The type of charity that has to raise money by peddling stories of despair and competing against each other to support problems is no charity to human potential.  It’s a disadvantaging voice, locked in a narrative where we never learn how to bring about an end to the issues that charities are meant to resolve.   Too much charity in the 21st century is in danger of becoming like reality TV – you can’t always be sure what its authenticity is, the format is stale, and few people can be bothered to track what happens next when the audience has switched over to the next big thing. 

So what does the home of our charity need?  A refreshed vision:  clarity to look ahead to see what needs to be done to live a life that is more advantageous for more people; relentless energy to reach out to work with those who can best help our society achieve that change. It needs the courage to replace our trade in deficits and disadvantage with the ‘know how’ to transform talents.  Above all, it must mark a ‘shift’ in defining what we believe is possible, and take us on an epic journey to embrace how we can choose to live our lives.

On the 30th April, Foyer Federation will be celebrating its 21st birthday.  Among the memories, it will offer up a 7 year vision to create a different story for and with young people by 2021.  What chapters that story will contain, and how exciting the narrative might be, will depend on who wants to write its future.  I’m looking forward to finding out…

Create the future with me in a night of Taking Advantaged Thinking Action at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE

Saturday 29 March 2014

Social Harmers

Pick up the knife.  In posters, speeches, research, headlines, campaigns; its slash marks a vein of problems that dis-ease our humanity.  This is how we cut young people up and down: as feckless, untalented, without grit, thuggish, disadvantaged, homeless, soft outcomes, at risk – Neets, Not Etonian or Easy Enough To Save, undeservingly poor. These are the people we stab with our images. Just so many charity cases to hide capitalism’s collateral damage in. Labelled like oversized luggage to carry the body bags of our market economy's age into another poster asking for 40p to help kill again and again.

Is it the self-harm of teenagers that cuts so deep today, or the social harm perpetuated by adults to feed their pain? Our policies, our irresponsibilities, our ignorance of what it takes to inspire and engage a generation, boomerangs through history. Specialists in failure, we are qualified to strip hope away to replace it with blame. And so young people become our scars lined up in prisons, gangs, A&E, welfare queues, systems of neglect, locked in disinvested rooms, whatever stereotype we can house them in - except a place to become themselves.  

We must scar our youth so they can express our failure to lead. We must disadvantage them to give us an excuse for failed dreams. They must carry the reason we can not harness the resources of our planet.  For we are the real harmers - the ‘social harmers of the self’ – addicted to cutting, punishing, manipulating, hurting the wellbeing of those who will not behave as we wish they would, to suffer in silent passivity to the conceit of adulthood.

Our social harm has turned the language of support into an anthem for doomed youth.  Hear its miserly abuse, see its squalid PR graffiti, and turn your heart away. Fresh words will sing elsewhere.

Friday 28 February 2014

A Bridge for Young People's Future

A speech given for Bridge Foyer's 15th Birthday:

"I’ve come all the way from London to be at this special 15th birthday celebration, because the Foyer Federation holds Bridge Foyer and the other Foyers of Your Housing in high regard. And at a time of great innovation in Foyers in the UK and overseas, represented by programmes such as Open Talent and Healthy Conversations run with Your Housing, I want to try and understand why it is that a beacon Foyer like Bridge could be put in a position where its vital service is under threat through the current commissioning climate.

I’d like to begin that by looking at a quote:

‘ Tomorrow’s leaders, artists and innovators are busy growing up but they can only achieve their potential with our whole hearted and expert support. That is why we need a director who’s not just skilled but driven and not just capable but passionate. In short, we need a true leader who understands why this job is so important.’

So marks the introduction for a job at Haringey Council as Director of Children’s Services – an authority trying to move on from the legacy of the Baby P scandal to put in place a culture of high aspiration for children and young people. They are using what we call at the Foyer Federation ‘Advantaged Thinking’; to start with what is possible –tomorrow’s leaders - and develop services to ensure that young people can create the possible in their lives.

What about Cheshire West and Chester?  What vision is being expressed in its strategic commissioning consultation document?  If you look at the outcomes, there is no sense that the young people of Chester are being prepared as tomorrow’s leaders, artists and innovators. In Chester, young people are not being equipped to thrive; they are being given an offer of ‘Housing Related Support’ that is only prepared to help them cope. Because all the evidence shows that services, such as Foyers, designed to do more than housing related support, enable young people to navigate a world that is far more complex that the choices suggested in the consultation document. Instead of the Advantaged Thinking approach in Haringey, Cheshire West and Chester start with what is not possible, the suggestion that young people cannot do more than sustain a tenancy, and then they propose commissioning services that ensure people can never achieve anything else. It’s what we call Disadvantaged Thinking – seeing young people in terms of problems instead of possibilities.

The difference between Haringey’s job ad, and Cheshire West and Chester’s consultation document, is like the difference between the story of the good and the bad parent. When a child is learning to walk, the good parent holds out the aspiration that the child crawling on the ground and falling down will be able to do something that is beyond their current ability. They encourage the child to keep trying, because they believe that they can and will be able to walk in the world. Compare that to the story of the bad parent  - who, when their child falls down trying to walk, says – I’m sorry, but walking is not for you, you are best crawling, and we’ll help you develop the skills to sustain your crawling for the rest of your life through ‘crawling related support’ so you can cope with not having the talent to walk like the rest of the children in town.

Why does Cheshire West and Chester only have the vision to offer young people the Housing Related Support options to help them crawl through life, instead of learning how to stand tall to find their talents through talent-building services?

Just imagine if the people responsible for the consultation document had been tasked with managing the GB Olympic team.  A team of athletes, prevented from breaking any bones, supported to sustain their tenancies and behave in in the Olympic village – but not equipped with the skills and experiences to win any medals at the games. At the Olympics, the GB team succeeded in winning its biggest medal haul through 3 key lessons: giving athletes access to high quality coaching; providing flexible, personalised budgets for athletes to navigate their life needs so they could focus on thriving; and creating a culture of high aspirations that believed in success, instilled confidence, and encouraged peer-to-peer positive support. Where are those ingredients in the Cheshire West and Chester consultation document?  In Chester, the service best placed to offer young people access to those 3 things, with the experience of doing so successfully, is now in danger of being axed because it doesn’t fit the strategic commissioning model being proposed.  Where is the Olympic legacy in that? 

The Olympic Games opening ceremony was memorably kicked off by a local Cheshire lad, Daniel Craig, famous for James Bond – a character associated with standing up against those who threaten our freedom.  I wouldn’t dream of comparing the intensions of Cheshire West and Chester with those of SPECTRE from the early Bond novels and films, but they do share one thing in common: an attempt to impose a system of control over the world that we know in our hearts is wrong, that we know only benefits a few, and that we know needs someone with the courage and determination to fight against.  The logic behind the Cheshire West and Chester consultation amounts to this: that there are some young people who we should only offer a minimal Housing Related Support offer to because they don’t have the talent to invest in their development through a more specialist talent-building service such as a Foyer. They are wrong. The logic is faulty. And the implied intent will leave Chester with a generation of young people with short term tenancy skills but without the longer term investment in their talent to build our collective future.  

What can we do about it?

At the Foyer Federation, we are creating a new movement to tell a different story about young people.  A story that can challenge disadvantaged thinking with the reality of who young people are, what their authentic voice is, and who they can become.  It’s a movement for ‘Taking Advantaged Thinking Action’.  And you can be part of that here, in Chester, by becoming an activist and special agent for Bridge Foyer.

You can be 001 – and make sure that the language we use about young people is focused on who they are, not the negative stereotypes and deficits that get attached to them by others.

You can be 002 – and make sure that the knowledge you have of young people is based on what they can do and aspire to, as we have witnessed in the young people performing today, not just their problems.

You can be 003 – and make sure that the way you work with young people is shaped around the power of coaching as opposed to supporting.

You can be 004 – and make sure that the future isn’t about the 20% savings the commissioner needs to make through service cuts, but about the 80% that will be wasted in just supporting people to cope instead of equipping them to thrive.  

You can be 005 – and make sure that you express the highest aspirations for young people as a good parent would.

You can be 006 – and make sure that we really involve young people in what we do, enabling their experiences to shape the services they receive in a more genuine way than the processes used in this consultation.

And you can be 007 – the ultimate agent - by challenging and campaigning for Taking Advantaged Thinking Action to secure a better world for young people.

So respond to the consultation document. Stand by the staff and young people of Bridge Foyer.  Think what talent you have to offer to help open young people’s. And whatever happens tomorrow, remember this song, by a music band called the Manic Street Preachers, from 1998 when Bridge Foyer was being built: ‘If you tolerate this, your children will be next’…"
With thanks to all the amazing young people and staff from Bridge Foyer in Chester

Create the future with me in a night of Taking Advantaged Thinking Action  at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE


Friday 21 February 2014

That Feeling...

 I saw the poster inside the shiny offices of Prince’s Trust as I trudged through the rain to work from Liverpool Street station. That Feeling – a big face catching the eye with the sensation of doing something challenging and exciting to raise money for The Prince’s Trust.  Or, in the words of the poster, to support ‘disadvantaged young people’.  Or, from a more honest perspective, to support the Trust’s ongoing communications campaign to stereotype young people as being ‘disadvantaged’ and other negative labels as the most effective way to raise money for itself.

At least the poster was colourful. At least the poster would motivate thousands of people to do things for others. At least the poster would stimulate an interest in the future for young people. Atleast some individuals would directly benefit from the promise of inspiration.

But I had a different feeling.

I was walking down a street in East London. One where there are not-so-shiny housing estates with young people who experience multiple challenges to harness their potential for life. Directly outside the estate, in the bus stop normally postered with KFC and drink ads, the Prince’s Trust’s ‘That Feeling’ image stared back.  It stopped me in my tracks. Not even I expected this.

How could they?  How dare they allow a poster to be put up here? Raising money in the name of supporting young people like some of those on the estate, who receive absolutely no service what so ever from The Prince’s Trust?  Using the image of their so-called ‘disadvantage’, in order to raise money that they never see?  I know, because I've lived there.

I wondered how many people had signed up to help the campaign, thinking their donations would make a difference in their actual locality.  Does the Prince’s Trust have a plan to help those young people on the estate?  They have great resources to offer, but do they and will they ever reach here?  Do they have an intention to share funding with those local charities working with young people in the areas where they put up their posters - those who actually have the best expertise to reach out and connect young people with opportunity?

I doubt it. After all, this is just the way that big national charities meet fundraising targets  to protect their status quo - in a clever, well done, and utterly shameful manner.

That Feeling….

Of betrayal. 

Of broken trust. 

That’s what putting a poster, with that language, with that intent, in that place, amounts to. For me.

As I walked home, I wondered if I could sign up to help the Prince’s Trust’s work.  The 'That Feeling' campaign has four options to choose your challenge, none of which I'm that good at, so I reasoned I could come up with my own.  And in the spirit of the campaign, it's a life-changing challenge - to convince the staff at Prince's Trust to 'Take Advantaged Thinking Action' in the way they talk about young people; in the way they invest in young people; and in the way they behave as a charity.  Because ‘That Feeling’ really really needs to change.
If you like a challenge, come and explore a night of Advantaged Thinking Action with me at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE

Saturday 1 February 2014

Running for never

‘Running away together, running away forever…’

Words from the (in)famous Brotherhood of Man hit that haunt me, not with the idea of eloping from reality, but the image of charity marathon runners and the causes they are prepared to hurt for each year.

I usually don’t get too excited by an email asking me to sponsor another runner for another cause. This week was slightly different.  The runner in question was the Chief Executive of Leap Confronting Conflict. If you don’t know them, Leap is an authentic, well run and inclusive youth charity, with a value base very different from the mainstream brands.  One of the Advantaged Thinkers in the pack.  In their own language, ‘Leap supports young people struggling with conflict (gangs, weapons, in prison, excluded from school) to transform that conflict in to positive activity, to reduce violence in their communities and to help lead our society. The young people we work with are amazing.’  While impressed with the challenge, it struck me that actually running such a charity ‘the right way’ was its own mental, emotional and physical marathon.  In which case, why weren’t we being asked to sponsor that? Why must a Chief Executive have to run a more publically acceptable form of ‘marathon’ as well, just to get money to invest in the work our society depends on?

Then I had a vision – arguably a nightmare – of all the normal brigade of celebs, well-to-dos, and middle classes looking for a new personal challenge, dressed in shorts and bursting into the doors of my workplace to help run the marathon of running a charity.   Sponsored to achieve various charity marathon challenges (posted up to choose from via our Run-a-Charity app of course), such as: how to prove your impact using tools that don’t reflect what you do; how to build a sustainable future using short-term funding; how to help young people navigate through a policy system designed to fail their every step; how to enable poorly paid over worked and under-appreciated staff on the frontline to pick up the fragments our society disposes of.  Thinking about all the time it takes to train for a marathon there would be more than enough hours to prepare easy-win solutions for the big Run-a-Charity day. Even better, if we could get the people causing some of the social problems that charity is trying to resolve, to come and actually run one, they might see how the true measure of what they do exists in the life of others they don’t understand. Expect moments of confession by the water-cooler as hubris finally melts with the polar ice cap.  

Ultimately, I am something of a 'rebbit' - a rebal rabbit running to get away with saying these things while I can. It won't last. The farmer’s gun isn’t far behind. Every rebel runs the line of a different race, knowing that the only finish line is the end of something or the end of themselves.  They don’t want to go home in foil, a sticker with a fastest time on the fridge, so they can come back to do it next year. They can't keep hiding in their hole. They want out.

Looking at the repeated programmes and campaigns that seem to do more to keep their organisations running than to stop our need for them, I really wonder what we have become. A society in perpetual motion, in perpetual denial. The fact we have a marathon to run for young people at all, after all these years, all these initiatives, all this knowledge, all our social wealth, is something to do something about. It’s certainly every reason why we should sponsor someone who is trying to run two marathons at once because, like me, they want the race to cease. We all should.
Sponsor Leap's Chief Executive Thomas Lawson to run the Brighton Marathon here

Find out how the race can cease in The Adventures of Tata-man, a performance of ideas at The Cockpit, Marylebone, on 6th August at 7.30pm. Tickets now on sale HERE