Last week Community Catalysts launched the People doing it for themselves report , easyread version together with an appendix of stories detailing the experience of 19 amazing people and groups. The 7-month development project on which the reports are based was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. It focussed on people who need care or support to live their lives who are also leaders, agents for change or entrepreneurs. The main project finding was that nearly everyone we met had followed a similar pathway to success that looks a bit like this:
Over the next few weeks we plan to focus on this path, pulling out some of the stories of the people we met to show what it looks like for real people.
People like Alexander a Scottish entrepreneur whose parents were told by doctors would never walk, talk, read or write. As a teenager he had lots of aspirations but couldn’t see how to make them happen. With the support of an excellent careers adviser he started to develop his skills and confidence and make links to people who might help including people at local charity Edinburgh Development Group (EDG). Alexander spent time at a ‘special needs’ college on a pathways acting course but found it didn’t stretch him. With the support of EDG Alexander began to explore other options, first on an internship as a development worker where he learned a lot about himself, then realising that self-employment might be a possibility. It was a moment of inspiration for Alexander, one that started to make sense of his dreams.
It was a light bulb moment – I thought….I could do this as a job!
With help from EDG Alexander was determined to act. He sought help from the Princes Trust and enlisted on a business development course with Business Gateway. From this early work Alexander realised he needed to develop his own skills and confidence if his business was to be a success. He found a second drama course where he worked hard to develop his body language and listening skills, voice projection and comic timing. With ongoing help from EDG he launched his new venture. Alexander now runs his own business called AJP Dreams. He uses his personal experience to inform and inspire others. He does this by delivering presentations, sharing his story, contributing to person centred planning work and doing consultancy work across Scotland.
I have gone from being a frustrated young man to be a successful businessman in a few, not so easy, steps. When I think back to where I started, I know it is all about determination and knowing when to ask for and accept help
Alexander has helped other people to achieve their dreams and is now influencing people and organisations and having a strong impact as a result. A member of Scottish Parliament saw Alexander deliver a presentation and was influenced to question the wording of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act away from ‘care and cherish’ and towards more aspirational language
I am helping other people and changing my world a little bit at a time…I finally know why, I am on this earth